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Review: Mitski "The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We" Tour

At the end of January 2024, Japanese-American indie artist Mitski started her The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We Tour. The new album has added a new country music-inspired sound to the artist's discography. Her accompanying tour features artists such as Arlo Park, Laufey, and Ethel Cain as openers at certain shows. 


 

Photo of Mitski by David Lee
Photo by David Lee

I had the pure pleasure of attending Mitski’s concert in Chicago and I must say that it did not disappoint. Every part of the concert had the whole crowd mesmerized not only by the songs but also by the performance itself. Mitski’s choreography added so much to the stories of the songs she performed. Accompanied by only a band and a couple of chairs, the artist’s creative vision was well received if the tears of the fans sitting behind me are to be taken positively.


Photo of Julia Jacklin by Martin Shumann
Photo by Martin Shumann

Opener Julia Jacklin did an amazing job starting the show and warming up the crowd for the emotional show ahead. I loved the artist’s acapella performance of her song “Too in Love to Die”, which was deemed a favorite by Mitski later in the show. The isolated vocals seemed to make the song sound more personal, as if all of us in the audience were intruding on a private declaration of love. The Australian artist played a short set that left the audience wanting to hear more. I was unfamiliar with Jacklin before, but her opening performance led me to investigate her music further and I was not disappointed. 


I was surprised to hear earlier this year that on this tour Mitski would be adding a country twang to the performance. The lyrics to the songs did not change, but the inflection in which they were sung changed in certain songs, which, in turn, changed their meanings. An example of this is her song “I Don’t Smoke”, which is normally sung in an angry, longing tone on the record. “If you need to be mean, be mean to me, I can take it and put it inside of me.” I have always interpreted this song to be about someone who is in an abusive relationship. Even though they take the abuse, they know that it is wrong and unhealthy. During the tour concert, however, the song's tone was changed to a jauntier traditional country sound. With this more upbeat sound, Mitski gave the impression that the singer is in denial about that abuse. With this change in tone, I heard a new story.


"If you need to be mean, be mean to me, I can take it and put it inside of me.”


Photo of Mitski by David Lee
Photo by David Lee

Like in many other concerts, the lighting was a big part of the choreography... but it was done with the artist’s own twist. One of the most memorable songs performed, in my opinion, was “Heaven”. As Two spotlights appeared on stage, Mitski began her song. Her melodic voice seemed to fill the space of the two lights, but as one disappeared, it was replaced by the singer herself as she took its spot as its dance partner. Her arm extended as if it were holding on to the waist of a lover. The performer danced a simple yet moving dance across the stage. “All of our love, filling all of our room,” she sang. And that it did. Piano took over as the artist stopped singing and simply swayed along with. Then, in the light of the last notes, one striking key on the piano left the artist collapsed on the floor.


For much of her act, Mitski was accompanied on a platformed section of the stage by a couple of chairs. Depending on the story of the song, the props played every role, from a seat for an invisible lover to a metaphorical or non-metaphorical ledge of a building. Many who have seen the artist perform know of this prop, but seeing it live for yourself is so entirely different from seeing it through a lens.


“One word from you and I would jump off of this ledge I’m on baby” 

My favorite song was “First Love/Late Spring". While “Heaven” was performed beautifully, it was not performed in its entirety, stopping short at the end of its dance. “First Love/ Late Spring” has always been a personal favorite of mine and I was happy to hear it nearly unaltered. I enjoyed the other songs' alterations, however I could not imagine “First Love/ Late Spring” changed in such a way. There did seem to be a little added twang near the bridge of the song that definitely wasn’t there before, but I enjoyed how it tied the song in with the theme of the others.



The concert was utterly unique, and I cannot wait to see what Mitski brings next. What do you want to see covered on Enharmonic Magazine next? Let us know.


 



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