Flowers and Fury: Mitski, Lorde, and the Melodrama Tour

VerÌ_nica Del Valle

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Mitski Miyawaki is a twenty seven-year-old New York City-based musician who, since 2012, has been a giant of the Brooklyn DIY community.

Her first two albums were products of her music education at SUNY Purchase. Her third and fourth albums were widely praised by music critics. Ella Yelich-O‰’Connor, known professionally as Lorde, is a twenty one-year-old singer and songwriter. As an internationally recognized pop star, she needs little introduction.

The two women‰’s worlds seem completely unrelated. Maybe they were, at one time. Despite all assumptions, Mitski spent the last month opening for Lorde on the North American leg of the Melodrama World Tour.

While Mitski is a hugely talented artist, the overlap between her and Lorde‰’s fanbase is not initially discernable. Like many pop artists, Lorde talks about youth and all its glory throughout her discography.

Pure Heroine, in essence, is an ode to adolescence and all its hollow moments. Melodrama, her 2018 release, is a concept album about love and a house party in many ways.

There is endless profundity in Lorde‰’s music, but it also relies heavily on pop conventions. Pure Heroine is a soundscape of twinkling loops and rumbling bass. This is in part due to the production of Joel Little, who has also worked with other big-name pop musicians like Khalid and Imagine Dragons. While Lorde was the main executive producer on Melodrama, her main collaborator was Jack Antonoff– the man behind Bleachers with production credits on Taylor Swift‰’s last two albums, as well as St. Vincent‰’s Masseduction.

Lorde is a big name working with many other big names.

Mitski‰’s music, particularly 2014‰’s Bury Me at Makeout Creek and 2016‰’s Puberty 2, is guitar-driven, pensive, and even angry. Miyawaki is known to scream into her guitar at live performances.

The principal single off of Puberty 2, “Your Best American Girl‰Û, is an anthem for women of color maligned by white, American culture. Her youth spent abroad, feeling like an outsider wherever she went, informs her deeply personal music.

As a public figure, Mitski is sparse. She infamously takes her private life seriously and, as a result, her music is a glimpse into a world the public will never fully know.

But, on stage, on a tour, in front of hoards of young women, the combination of Mitski and Lorde makes perfect sense.

Mitski speaks little on stage, even at her own shows. She is stoic and prioritizes performance above all else. She is not playing her music to be your friend or hold your hand. In a way, it is like she has something to prove.

Even in arenas, she maintains this act. Miyawaki does not pander to the crowd by only playing her biggest, poppiest hits.

One of the most stunning aspects of Mitski‰’s half-hour set on the Melodrama Tour is her purposeful alienation of the crowd. Her song choices are deliberately loud and abrasive; they show off her prowess as a guitarist and her punk-influences. But, on each and every one of her songs, she bears her entire heart.

During her performance at The Anthem, the only club show played during the your, Mitski closed with “Drunk Walk Home‰Û an abrasive track for scorned women. The first half of the song is driven only by a steady drum, but the second is all yelling and heavy guitars.

She did not compromise this for an arena filled mostly with people who did not know who she is. She did not make it poppier or happier. Then, she just left the stage.

Mitski poured her heart out and disappeared.

The reason Miyawaki works so well as an opener for an expansive pop concert is vested in contrast and content. Lorde is all pop hooks, lights, costume changes, and dances. Mitski, at least in Washington, D.C., was a woman with a live band, a guitar, and a white dress.

But, both of these women sing about what they‰’re feeling. They boast their emotions, though in completely different ways. In fact, Melodrama is all about messiness. It about showing the world everything that a woman is feeling and letting that very world reckon with the consequences. It is a safe space for the scared and marginalized.

Mitski‰’s own headlining shows feel the same way. It is safe to feel everything while she sings and shreds and makes quiet jokes.

It is unsurprising that Mitski‰’s individual fanbase consists mostly of young women, much like Lorde‰’s.

Both musicians are all about flowers and fury, about femininity, power, and emotion.

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Flowers and Fury: Mitski, Lorde, and the Melodrama Tour