The audience was filled with die-hard Mitski fans who cheered every song beginning and cooed with every sexy gesture. Personally, "Your Best American Girl" and "Nobody" stand out pretty far above the rest of the repertoire but that having been said, the show was thoroughly enjoyable and thought-provoking.
Julianna Barwick opened with a set of solo voice looping plus keyboard and triggered bass. It was beautiful, but too long in this setting. The Mitski-primed (and standing) audience seemed a bit antsy at about the halfway point. For me, after the first few pieces, I craved the entrance of percussion or a change in the texture of the voice; short, stabbing sounds to contrast the ethereal, layered, long tones. In any case, it was great, and the set made me really want to play with Barwick.
In contrast, Mitski's songs felt compact. She performed short song after short song, each maybe four minutes, and with accompanying, practiced choreography. She utilized a white table and chair at center stage, bending over the chair, draping a leg over the table, climbing on top of it, and changing its orientation through the different pieces. I appreciated that Mitski had taken the time to prepare and practice all this -- it was confident and interesting to watch. It felt respectful somehow, as if Mitski takes the act of performing seriously and is prepared to dedicate time to making a concert special. But it also got me thinking about why pop music so often incorporates dance. As I watched the Mitski musicians playing their relatively simple parts, I realized it's partly because the musicianship isn't particularly engaging. In that light, Mitski's choreography felt a little like energy misplaced. Why not make the music itself more amazing?
The sound was really good. Mitski's vocals were clear and soaring. I didn't like the triggered drum sounds (Roland SPD) very much -- lifeless in their regularity -- but generally speaking, the drums were set surprisingly far back in the mix and it sounded really good. There was one sound disappointment: the entrance of electric guitar at the middle of "Your Best American Girl". In the Youtube video where I first heard the piece, this drop is wonderfully heavy, but the live show had none of that loudness. Kudos to the engineer on the video/recording.