I am a shooting star: Mitski concert review

Written by Madeline Happold


It’s pitch black and my eyes are wet. My mouth is dry, but my ear are filled with by a soft, lulling voice offering comfort in a time of unrest.


If Mitski’s body is made of crushed little stars, mine is made of crushed little glass. Sharp razerblades cutting me, showing from the inside, out.


I wasn’t planning on attending Mistki’s show at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday, July 20. The show had sold out weeks before, just as most of her other shows while on tour with Japanese Breakfast and Jay Som. When I failed at finding tickets in time I cried in frustratment, when I magically acquired tickets two hours before the show it felt like a whirlwind of luck and circumstance.


I have not yet recovered.


If I had one word to describe Mitski’s performance it would be intimate. She casually walks to the stage, quiet and calm with an expressionless face. Her appearance is intimate; she wears a grey long-sleeved shirt and black leggings, her hair straight down with little to no makeup. Her performance is just as intimate; only a drumset, guitar, and her voice reverberating through the concert hall. The room is so quiet the shutter of my camera feels like a disturbance. She quickly glides between songs, pausing only to mutter a shy thank you or to flash a soft smile. Stripped and uncut, the songs sounded raw, and I was left perplexed as if I was hearing each for the first time.


She offers a poignant compliment halfway through her set: I would say I love you, but I don’t want to sound insincere.


Well I love your music with as much sincerity as my heart can hold. It reminds me that my feelings are not my own; my lovestruck heart can beat with others pining and longing for the same hidden wonders, unaware that sometimes you must hurt to find happiness.


Her songs bleed and blend, and a slight twinge of anxiety sets in as I feel the night hurrying along faster than I expected. Suddenly, her drummer leaves the stage. A single spotlight falls on the girl with her guitar, and I feel embarrassment setting in for witnessing something so intimate and delicate. Mitski begins her last song, Last Words of a Shooting Star, a song of sudden endings.


I close my eyes and l am alone. I am in my own mind; I am in the song, moving through the words and the sorrow and the pain of what I remember, her voice guiding me to feel.


I would like to advise that my interpretation does not imply any overall meaning to the songs as a whole. This experience is my own personal revelation and should be taken in tangent, not relation, with Mitski’s ability to relate emotions through her music.


All of this turbulence wasn't forecasted

Apologies from the intercom

And I am relieved that I'd left my room tidy

They'll think of me kindly

When they come for my things


I am shaking in the wake of my own “turbulence.” It’s an emotional turmoil of which I have created, a disruptance to life’s normalities.


I am in my room, dark except for me standing in the center. It occurs to me that I am dead, watching my death unfold. I am waiting for my family to come and grab my belongings. The air is sterile and cold: lifeless. There is the impending still of time stopped where nothing is right and nothing is real but something so familiar and warm now seems fake and fragile, the harsh reality setting in deep. This is what would happen if I killed myself. This is the aftermath that I would have created and left messy. At least my room would be tidy.


I can imagine my apologies to those I love, the feeling of guilt for my actions, for not being able to better describe my feelings. I would tell my mom I’m sorry. She would blame herself for knowing I was sad but also not knowing how to make things better. I feel her pain as I wait in the room. It’s jarring and uneasy, like prolonged eye contact or the dead silence of night. I cannot move from my spot in the center, but I cannot stay and see her face. This is what I could not see. This is what I could not feel until I thought I could no longer feel. The moments after that are indescribable and unknown. These moments are pitch black.


It is the dark I have created. The dark I thought would leave, but instead spread like a disease.


They'll never know how I'd stared at the dark in that room

With no thoughts

Like a blood-sniffing shark

And while my dreams made music in the night


I was going to live


Dealing with mental illness is like living with a shark. It is the predator and you are the prey, each day hiding from yourself. Some days are safer than others. Some draw blood. Simple things begin to feel complicated, and life feels like a burden rather than a luxury.   In order to stay afloat, living “carefully” becomes the norm as not to disturb the beast.


You wouldn't leave till we loved in the morning

You'd learned from movies how love ought to be

And you'd say you love me and look in my eyes

But I know through mine you were

Looking in yours

And did you know the liberty bell is a replica

Silently housed in its original walls

And while its dreams played music in the night


It was told to believe


Love and hope and belief have begun to feel distant. I feel only the darkness, like I have been stuck in a tunnel of helplessness and solitude and cannot seem to find my way out. When had I grown so young? When had I turned into a “tall child,” crying on airplanes, throwing fits, hugging loved ones too tightly as so they never leave? Like the song, I want to “believe,” to believe in myself and believe in freedom from my illness.


I always wanted to die clean and pretty

But I'd be too busy on working days

So I am relieved that the turbulence wasn't forecasted

I couldn't have changed anyways

I am relieved that I'd left my room tidy


The song ends like an unexpected final breath. It is the action, the dying, unplanned. It could be taken as bleak, a welcomed acceptance of death, but I choose to find hope, using Mitski’s music as an aid.


It’s pitch black and my eyes are wet. My own breaths feel like heavy sighs. I am not crying, I am releasing. Releasing energy and feelings and emotions bottled up so deep they have seeped as knots in my muscles, blended with the blood in my veins. I was holding onto hate with a firm grasp, believing I was not even worth my own time. I wanted to let go. My turbulence, my shark, my mental illness was as unplanned as my attendance at the concert that night. Mitski echoes relief in her last lines. I think I want relief, too. I want to be a shooting star, illuminating the sky like a ray of light. Something people wish on, search for, look toward for peace. Shooting stars don’t fall, they burn.


I hear a final soft chord awake me. Goodbye she whispers.

I open my eyes and she’s gone. I am still here.


Listen to Mitski's Set List below:

Photos courtesy of Madeline Happold. Contact Madeline at madelinehappold@shredded-mag.com, or follow her on Instagram