When I first heard about Mitski, I had listened to a clip of her popular song, Me and My Husband, on TikTok. Before I knew it, my entire For You page became flooded with different songs of hers, convincing me to add her music into my sad or chilling playlists. It seemed as though everyone had become obsessed with the same artist, and it transformed the musician from well-known to a national star.
Mitski Miyawaki, professionally known as Mitski, is a Japanese-American Indie singer-songwriter. She signed with Dead Oceans in 2015, where she released her critically acclaimed albums, “Be the Cowboy” (2018), “Laurel Hell” (2022), and the recent “The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We” (2023). However, I personally did not know of Mitski until her popularity spiked for her 2018 album, which became a massive hit on TikTok in 2020.
When Mitski came out with her new album “Laurel Hell” last year, in addition to an international tour, the internet raved about having the chance to experience her songs in person. Most likely anticipating this great impact, Mitski had reached out to her audience, and asked, via Twitter on Feb. 24th, 2022, if her audience could refrain from using their phones too often at her concerts.
As Tom Skinner from New Music Entertainment put it, “the musician went on to say that people watching her perform through a screen makes her feel like she is being ‘consumed as content’ as opposed to ‘getting to share a moment’ with the crowd.” However, her tweet was met with backlash, and has long since been taken down, from many supposed fans, claiming how Mitski had no right to ask this of them, how pretentious she must be, or accusing Mitski of being ableist as some people claimed they needed use of their phones for their mental health.
There have been multiple instances on both TikTok and Twitter, where many who attended Mitski’s “Laurel Hell” concerts complained of the lack of concert etiquette from other audience members when watching Mitski perform. People are attending her shows raving as though they were at a BTS concert, discussing Mitski’s improv dances, or continuously belting out her songs with her. None of which are manners that would be disapproved of at any other mainstream artist’s concert, but are, according to these people, disappointing to witness at Mitski’s concerts, where people expect a small, relatively quiet crowd.
Which begs the ultimate question, can Mitski even be considered an “indie” musician anymore? All I know is, whether or not she is, she and her fans must come to terms with her mainstream popularity, with her fans having to learn to be more respectful to their beloved artist and other concert-goers.