In June, singer-songwriter Mitski announced that the final show of her “Be The Cowboy” tour on September 7 would be her last performance for an indefinite period of time.
“It’s time to be a human again,” she tweeted, before deleting all her social media accounts.
Though the future of Mitski’s career might be murky, in her show July 16 at the Hollywood Palladium, she made one thing clear: she’s determined to give her fans all she can before she takes her leave.
Before the show, 3,000 fans filled the dimly lit Palladium, packing in the sweeping dance floor and surrounding balconies. The stage was lit with beams of magenta and sapphire light that radiated toward the crowd and illuminated the long white table and a single wooden chair on center stage.
As the fans waited restlessly for Mitski, two strangers behind me began comparing their favorite albums.
“I listened to ‘Puberty 2’ when I was 16,” one said. “And man… it just hit different.”
Mitski’s four-piece band, which included a drummer, guitarist, bassist, and keyboardist appeared right on schedule, and a few minutes later Mitski emerged onstage, walking slowly, almost meditative, to frenzied screams from the crowd. She wore a cropped white T-shirt with black spandex shorts and knee pads, a hint of the choreography and acrobatics to come.
Once at center stage Mitski launched into a tight performance of “Goodbye, My Danish Sweetheart,” a track off her second album that showcased her vocal flexibility and precision as she navigated a series of climbing key changes. Her set list ranged from tracks off her newest record “Be The Cowboy,” to hits off her older records, including a sultry rendition of “Liquid Smooth,” from her 2012 debut album, performed under an ethereal, algae-green light.
Mitski has been known to perform entire concerts standing nearly perfectly still. But on Tuesday she delighted fans with energetic and acrobatic dancing that at times was precise and carefully choreographed while other times became wild and flailing, with Mitski jumping and spinning across the stage.
The limited props were put to good use: during some songs Mitski would drape herself over the white table at center stage, at other times she would lie on her back and kick her feet up into the air. In one memorable moment she upturned the table and began to shake it in an unrestrained frenzy.
Fans responded to every choreographed gesture with gleeful screaming. It seemed as if the entire dance floor knew the lyrics to every song and could scream the name of the song after just the first chord. It was clear that most of the audience was more than just casual fans; near the end of the set, when the opening beat of “Drunk Walk Home” poured through the hall, the girl next to me burst into loud and uncontrollable sobs.
The performance was brisk, with little pause between each song. Mitski rarely talked directly to the crowd, except toward the end of the set, where she reached out to fans, declaring: “I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you.” It was impossible not to wonder if she was contemplating the fact that this show could be one of her last.
During the encore, after the haunting opening chords of her ballad “Two Slow Dancers,” the same girl next to me let out a teary sigh. The crowd began to sway as Mitski with her bell-like voice sang the opening line softly, like a secret: “Does it smell like a school gymnasium in here?” At that point, after an hour of angst-drenched music, fanatic hysterics, and people dancing at their most vulnerable, the packed Palladium really did.