I was so stoked for this show. I stumbled upon Mitski on some NPR playlist a month or so ago, and ever since I’ve been bumping her music almost exclusively. A bunch of my friends were into Elvis Depressedly, and I dug the name so I headed to DC9 to see them co-headline on Tuesday.
I didn’t even realize there would be an opener, but when Eskimeaux took the stage I was beyond impressed. So impressed that they were my favorite act by the end of the night. Gabrielle Smith started off with a joke about her relief to be back on the east coast after a brief west coast stint, and when she leaned into the guitar to start the first song that relief became materialized immediately. The in-between conversation would overflow into their next song with an ease that I’ve almost never seen in a live performance. I’m a fan of Adult Mom and Frankie Cosmos and I can see how Eskimeaux fits right into that female-driven lo-fi indie canon (side note, I actually found out that Smith is in Frankie Cosmos’ Band). Bob Boilen let me switch spots with him to get better pictures, so I figure it’s only a matter of time before they’ll be headlining. I’d pay to see them again.
Mitski took the stage right after, donning a neon pink bass that she played with Xs on her hands. She started off with “Townie”, the song that got everyone into her to begin with, and the crowd (filled with very cute gender nonconforming young people wearing bold lipstick) got incredibly hype. It was interesting to see how her stage presence matched up with my preconceived notion of how it would be. It turns out that youth does not always equal sweetness, and Mitski rarely showed her teeth to smile on stage. Her performance was more solemn and art-focused, and she sounded amazing. At one point, her guitarist took off her guitar and handed it to Mitski as she sat down on stage, and Mitski proceeded to lift the guitar to her face and scream into where the sound hole would be if it were acoustic. It was intense.
Elvis Depressedly (all seven hundred of them) (not really but there were a ton of people on that tiny stage) rounded out the evening. They were off to a bit of a rough start with the lethal combination of sound issues and Mat Cothran having a cold. He wasn’t happy. He stood with the cord wrapped around his neck and did not open his eyes once as he sang sad songs about the apocalypse. I wasn’t buying it, to be honest. I’m not hip enough to hate everything. But then he pulls out “Rock’N’Roll,” with lines like “Jesus died on the cross so I could quit my job.” So I’m just like shit, if they play more songs that sound like this I’ll stick around. From then on I dug it. I got it. They finished with “Weird Honey” and everything came together. I was happy. Mat Cothran was happier. Bob Boilen was happy, because Bob Boilen is a really nice guy who lets obnoxious photographers who come in late switch spots with him and seems like he’s pretty happy on average. All was well at DC9.
More shots of Mitski