It is goodbye for now. Earlier this year Mitski announced that she was taking a break from touring after her final show this year at SummerStage Central Park in New York City on September 7. She added another gig the next night, so the tour extended one more day, but after deleting social media and leaving some fans bewildered, it became clear this was just to let her take a break after years of constant touring and not even really having a home to come back to. After one final gasp in front of an adoring audience in New York City this past Sunday, she can finally take that break.
On a cloudy Sunday night, the line was hundreds of people long for doors at 6. Sitting off in the grass in the distance, I could see the line swell and diminish with fans scurrying up to try and get into the venue for a place to sit and possibly enjoy a small meal pre-show. Many of the early birds were right up against the rails in front of the stage by the time I got in.
Lucy Dacus opened the show promptly at 7pm with a blend of her more recent tracks and some older tunes that veered from soft acoustic numbers to the occasional hard rock out moment. She finished her set with an unreleased song about fighting off abusive and stalkerish men in a way that would make Game of Thrones proud. With the crowd composition, the slow, clear acoustic number was quite a hit.
After a lengthy changeover with some weird atonal jazz, Mitski appeared side stage as her band filled in to their instruments. She started her first song “Goodbye, My Danish Sweetheart” as she walked out in a white top, biker shorts, knee pads and biker shoes ready to take us through her emotional aerobics course. She slowly made her way to a short, wooden table, sitting in the chair behind it facing the crowd. She did not stay there long, moving around the stage as fast as the songs changed, throwing the crowd through a whirlwind of tracks from her 2018 album Be The Cowboy. While one could hear the crowd audibly singing along the whole show, tracks like “Geyser” and “Nobody” got everyone in full voice.
10 minutes into the show I could already see a few tears building up in the eyes of fans around me as their eyes stayed fixed on Mitski dancing around the stage. The choreography felt different from her show this past winter at Brooklyn Steel which had a slew of weird, yet inspired dance moves, whereas this time felt much more physical and involved with the table flipping and moving around. That felt much more like a controlled and composed show, whereas this felt like a final gasp.
She quickly soared through most of Be The Cowboy, barely stopping to take a breath or say much to the crowd. Her voice and movement was how she was communicating. She then pulled back into some tracks from her prior discography, like the blistering “Your Best American Girl” from Puberty 2. A little after nine, the table and chair went away as she slowed things down with just her guitar for renditions of "A Burning Hill” and “My Body’s Made of Crushed Little Stars,” as she screamed the final lines of the song over heavy distortion. It felt like a release she had been waiting for to finally get onto the next chapter of her life.
Mitski exited for an encore, before emerging a few moments later with a blend of “Carry Me Out” and “Two Slow Dancers.” The crowd swayed in each other’s arms in silence admiring what may be the last time they see Mitski for a little while. The intimate finale to Be The Cowboy, “Two Slow Dancers,” felt like it was her farewell. “We’re two slow dancers, last ones out" she sang the final lines of the song before the lights slowly shut down.
While we never got a long heartfelt speech with her ideas for the future, she did thank her crew, band and the crowd most of all. “This is all I ever wanted in my life,” she told everyone. Slowly walking off stage as the crowd headed for the exits, some wiping away one final tear, it was easy to see the truth in her words.