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Mitski Brings All Of Herself And More To Massey Hall

From visual metaphors to physical perseverance the indie songwriter put all of herself into her sold-out Toronto dates.

by Daniel McIntosh

SAT FEB 10, 2024 – MON FEB 12, 2024

Toronto, ON

Massey Hall

Mitski is many things to many people. To some, she’s a TikTok darling worthy of worship and screams of “Mother!” To others, Mitski is a generational songwriter with a tense relationship with publicity. What’s left is a complicated push and pull with the spotlight, with visibility, and the seeming obsession from fans.

It was hard to not see these things on the second night of three sold-out shows at Toronto’s Massey Hall. Her stage setup seemed to interrogate that very disconnect between herself, her fans, and the nature of performance. As she emerged with her seven-piece band, donning a simple set of stage blacks, and burst into “Everyone” from 2022’s Laurel Hell, she appeared behind a circular curtain, a silhouette magnified into a giant by tricks of light. With the added attention the complication grows. 

The visual metaphor is striking considering Mitski’s profile has grown significantly on the strength of her seventh album The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We, an Americana-powered departure from her previous albums. However there was an entire back catalogue of gems I was, perhaps selfishly, hoping to see, and I was pleased to see previous hits like “I Don’t Smoke” and “Happy” spun into honky-tonk versions suitable to her latest era.

The sparse staging amplified Mitski’s performance art. Having trained with movement artist Monica Mirobile, her songs are newly informed by an ever-shifting stage presence. For an artist whose public persona is one of withdrawal, her live presence is assertive and funny. As she quipped in her opening monologue with a faux-dramatic flourish: “I’m here! I’m suffering through it for you!”