Mitski’s North American tour in support of her excellent fifth album, Be The Cowboy, came to an end with a four night run at Brooklyn Steel in Brooklyn, NY. She selected the supporting acts of SASAMI (Sasami Ashworth), of Los Angeles, and Downtown Boys of Providence, RI for three of the four shows. The fourth and final night features Arooj Aftab instead.
I previously saw SASAMI over the summer at House of Vans when she opened for Blondie. The July show featured Sasami joined by her brother while her performance on Saturday night had her backed by a drummer and bassist. She performed a tight and fun set, beginning promptly at 8PM, with light banter in between songs.
Taking the stage at 8:45 were the punk band Downtown Boys. Kicking off their set with “Wave of History,” the quintet encouraged dancing and singing along with singer Victoria Ruiz reaching across the space between the stage and audience to have fans sing into the microphone for songs such as “100% Inheritance Tax,” “Monstro,” and “Somos Chulas.” Ruiz’s banter was political, referring to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos before beginning “100%,” who will build their headquarters in a neighborhood that is less than 3 miles from the venue, and discussing the circumstances that asylum seekers experience and leave behind before performing “A Wall.” I’ve seen Downtown Boys play in much smaller venues around New York City for the past few years, with many of them that are no longer around, so it was wonderful to experience them in a larger space, performing for people who had never witnessed their ebullient concerts before. Their set consisted of tracks from their 2017 Sub Pop Records album Cost of Living along with their previous release, Full Communism, plus two covers: “Fotos Y Recuerdos” by Selena and “Dancing in the Dark” by Bruce Springsteen.
At 10PM, Mitski took the stage with a brand new production. I’ve seen Mitski perform over the past few years in New York, Jersey City, NJ, and Philadelphia, PA plus this was my second time attending a sold out show of hers at Brooklyn Steel (she also performed there on Saturday, April 29, 2017, one of the first concerts I went to after fracturing my right tibia and having surgery on my ankle). Backed by a full band (guitarist, drummer, keyboardist, and bassist) and giant screens to display visuals, this allowed Mitski to integrate choreography into her live performances for the first time. Delegating guitar and bass to another musician allowed her to spend a majority of her set expressing herself through movement. Fans watched her in adoration while some wore cowboy hats on their heads. Her set included songs such as “I Don’t Smoke,” “Washing Machine Heart,” “Townie,” “Me and My Husband,” “Dan the Dancer,” and “Nobody,” with many of these songs feeling like every person in attendance was singing along.
The four musicians on stage departed before “A Burning Hill” leaving Mitski alone to play that song, plus “My Body’s Made of Crushed Little Stars” on guitar. The final two songs of the night were “Two Slow Dancers,” and “Goodbye, My Danish Sweetheart,” from her second album Retired from Sad, New Career in Business. Once the show was over, I was extremely excited for Mitski’s growth as a performer and very happy that I bought a ticket to the show nearly six months ago knowing it would be one of my favorite performances of the year.