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SXSW Lone Stars: Mitski Stole the Show

The Japanese guitar-pop player ruled Don Giovanni's SXSW showcase

Of all the performances we witnessed last week at Austin’s annual South By Southwest festival, one show stealer was particularly arresting: Mitski. The famously dressed-down Brooklyn-based singer, whose one piece of flair is a strikingly hot-pink guitar, came sandwiched between labelmates Downtown Boys and Screaming Females at the Longbranch Inn. Playing to a sticky-with-sweat audience at the basement-like venue, the deadpan folk-rock chanteuse rolled out an edgy yet poignant set of distortion-tinged tracks — many of which came from her latest album, Bury Me At Makeout Creek — that felt emotionally on-point, especially given the spring downpour taking place outdoors. Opener “Townie” was particularly moving, as Mitski wailed to a group of septum-pierced, head-shaven — as the Crowd Pleasers would say in 1979 — “freaky people,” “I’m not gonna be what my daddy wants me to be.” That’s why we flock to Austin every spring: to join hands and hearts (and sometimes grab a free Egg McMuffin) with the other music-loving oddballs.