Author: David Heinrich
Madison music fans are in for a treat this Wednesday when Mitski brings her Be The Cowboy tour to The Sylvee. Mitski performing with support from Jay Som, a fantastic one-two punch of opener and headliner that will make for a fantastic show.
Mitski Miyawaki is a Japanese-American singer and songwriter who has risen to considerable fame in the past couple of years. Her first two albums were recorded during her time in college, but after graduation, she developed a cult following with the release of her 2014 record Bury Me At Makeout Creek. 2016’s Puberty 2 saw her profile grow even more, garnering new fans and widespread critical acclaim. Last year, she released her strongest project to date in Be The Cowboy, which ended up at the top of Pitchfork’s “50 Best Albums of 2018” list. All of Mitski’s music is packed with cathartic emotion, but this is especially true on her newest record in songs like “Nobody” and “Geyser”.
Be The Cowboy thematically centers around Mitski pushing back against the traditional white male image and persona of the American Cowboy. It’s a message to women, especially non-white women, to challenge that perception of power and to embody the spirit of the cowboy in their own lives. In her brilliant profile with Vinyl Me, Please writer (and WSUM DJ!) Amileah Sutliff, Mitski embodied that cowboy energy in talking about her presence on stage.
“I should just be the swaggering white guy onstage… Like, well, if that’s what I want then I should just do it. It’s what I want to see, I should just do it. Or in a situation, I should just forget that I’m an Asian woman, and just be like, ‘What would a cowboy do in this situation?’ And he’d be like, ‘I ain’t gon’ take that shit!’”
While the road is often lonesome for the cowboy, Mitski is fortunately not alone on this leg of her tour. Jay Som will be opening for her, a familiar face to big fans of Mitski. The two of them seem to go hand in hand in a lot of people’s playlists, with similar sounds and subject matter. Jay Som also incorporates some elements of psychedelic rock and bedroom pop into her instrumentals, and has a brighter tone to some of her tracks. Regular Madison concert goers may have been lucky enough to catch an intimate set she performed last time she was in town at Memorial Union Terrace. She hasn’t released any major new music since her last album Everybody Works aside from a one-off single, but hopefully her tour appearance is a sign of more new music on the horizon.
This tour was booked for mostly small venues and was initially booked for the Majestic here in town, but sold out that venue so quickly that it was moved to The Sylvee. The show has almost sold out The Sylvee as well, a testament to the radical love that Madison fans have for Mitski.