Mitski Defines Stylized Performance at Massey Hall

26 February 2024 / by Maya Fettes
Mitski Concert Review
Mitski Defines Stylized Performance at Massey Hall
To an audience hanging on her every word, Mitski performed an hour and a half of tracks from her discography and her latest album accompanied by entrancing visual production. 

February 12th was the last of Mitski’s three sold-out nights at Toronto’s Massey Hall. To an audience hanging on her every word, she performed an hour and a half of tracks from her discography and her latest album, The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We, accompanied by entrancing visual production. 


The show opened with a folk version of “Everyone” and Mitski being followed by a spotlight—one of the show’s recurring themes—creating a massive shadow of herself behind a cylindrical curtain before it falls to the ground. What’s immediately evident is how exceptional her band is; a slew of instruments, each played with palpable, intentional articulation. They laughed and had fun amongst each other at the right moments and played with sincerity when need be. My only disappointment is that they were never formally introduced.


The folk renditions of Mitski’s most notable songs have been some of the biggest talking points of this tour. Songs like “I Don’t Smoke,” “Pink in the Night,” and “Working For The Knife” have been reworked, which may come as a shock, but folk and country music by traditionally non-folk/country artists is in an ongoing renaissance. Hearing these new renditions, they didn’t feel like the same songs anymore. If you know and love those songs for how they were originally produced, it could feel jarring to hear this arrangement, though they were positively received by the audience and are ultimately a reminder and testament to the flexibility of Mitski’s artistry.


The whole performance functioned as theatre with all-consuming lighting design like the wash of cobalt blue that made the true shape of the stage an illusion during “Bug Like An Angel.” Every piece of incredibly stylized movement—choreographed by Monica Mirabile—was effortlessly fluid down to her fingers and was the ultimate physical expression of her lyrics. Mitski was the consummate professional, singing ballads like “Heaven” without a quiver in her voice, contorting her body and utilizing her black box theatre-style set and props like a single chair to the fullest extent of their storytelling capabilities.  


Apart from the encore performances of “Nobody” and “Washing Machine Heart”—her two most popular songs from Be the Cowboy—the audience, largely made up of young adults, sat in respectful silence, perhaps promoted by the setting. Mitski is playing intimate, seated theatres across North America, with Massey Hall being the only stop so far in Canada. Each song’s conclusion was met with overwhelming applause and encouraging laughter when elicited by Mitski’s address. Watching the show’s narrative unfold with circus-style lighting, the urge to sing along or even hum was non-existent, as if you were watching something that had been perfected to witness as is, an unspoken assumption seemingly shared by all 2700 or so people in attendance. 


“Love Me More”

“My Love Mine All Mine”