Bury Me at Mitski's Rodeo

by Katie Burke

In a dark bar, clutching a phone to my ear, is where I decide that Mitski has a catalog of my sins. Someone has pulled up Lonesome Love and it’s my first time hearing it. When she sings, Nobody butters me up like you do and nobody fucks me like me, I feel an immediate urge to call a lyft. To go home to my apartment, light a candle for myself and put my ass to bed.

The first thing I do when I listen to a new Mitski album is think about myself.

Listen. I do the thing we all do. I beg to relate to whatever it is that I find beautiful or interesting. I assign a relationship or an experience to each song, and then I make it mine. Mitski makes this, not necessarily easy, but wonderfully possible. Like honesty. Like shifting weight.

There is more of a pop aspect to this album than there ever has been in Mitski’s music. There are bops like, “Why Didn’t You Stop Me” interspersed between the expected guitar-heavy ballads like, “Geyser” or “Pink in The Night”. Songs to scream-cry to.

I want to talk about the bops. Get in your car, or get on the train, or the bus while you listen to “Why Didn’t You Stop Me”. Look out the window and feel how everything can move as quickly as your heart does. How buildings can turn to blur as quickly as you begin to feel the twinge of shame from the lyrics I know I ended it, but why didn’t you chase after me? You know me better than I do. So why didn’t you stop me?

Put your hands on your head. What you’re feeling is whiplash.

There are multiple songs that function like breaks between paragraphs. A breather. Songs under two minutes that allow your heart to relax, to mend from all her honesty. Like the line in “A Horse Named Cold Air”,

I thought I had traveled a long way
but I had circled
the same old sin

I need a week in bed.

The first time I heard Mitski was in 2014 when Bury Me at Makeout Creek was released. I wrote a review of it. I had never felt compelled to review anything before. I wrote that it made me feel young, like a teenager. I wrote that I felt thankful that I was no longer in my teens, but my twenties. How did I imagine this being easier? I don’t want to assign an age to this album. But there is definitely a clarity to the sadness. Imagine a light getting turned on inside a room which darkness’ you have already adjusted to. Everyone is always getting older.

We should be thankful that Mitski has let her art become this kind of time capsule. A museum of what she was feeling at the time, with enough room for everyone else to engage. Space to say, I have felt this way, I have placed my hand on something marked OPEN FLAME and felt satisfaction. I have made the same mistake. Again. And again.

This album says here is what your desperation can sound like; beautiful. Here is how you are alone, and that is how you are always winning.


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Carly Rae Jepsen Loves You and So Do I

Photo by  Morgan Martinez

The first day of pitchfork I woke up with my throat so swollen and dry that it barely allowed me to drink luke warm green tea. My entire head was pulsing as if 17 tiny men were pressing at the insides of my skull. And then suddenly at 3 PM, by The Grace of Carly, I levitated from my bed. I got dressed and walked to the train.

Emotion was released on August 21st, 2015. Otherwise know as, My Darkest Hour. It was the summer that included a breakup (the kind that wasn't really a breakup, just a car crash featuring me and my ability to romanticize absolutely anything) piled onto a several month long depressive episode. A summer that could easily be described as feeling like: pushing your legs as hard and as fast as you could on a park swing and biting your tongue into ground meat when you finally jumped off. It was messy, and so was I. When I couldn't quiet my brain, I would get in my car and drive to the suburbs. But anything that I listened to in that time always brought my mind to a place that I didn't want it to be. I was overwhelmed by negative thoughts that my brain kept projector-screen-flashing at me. One of the universal truths about being depressed is that you will always, without fail, pick the worst music for yourself. A friend suggested that I listen to Carly Rae Jepsen's new album; of which I was wary. I thought: I need lexapro, not “Call Me Maybe”.

I was so so wrong.

Carly's pitchfork performance coincidentally started with the first song I had ever heard from Emotion, “Run Away With Me”. The entire crowd lunged forward as if they were excited to run away to wherever Carly was going, and not at all concerned with the desitination. I clutched my chest and screamed from somewhere deep in my stomach as she continued to sing banger after banger.

Someone behind me screamed: QUEEN OF PITCHFORK, and I don't know how else I could've described her. She was standing on top of the speakers in front of me with her arms spread wide. Her 70's esque glam- as-hell mullet was somehow blowing even in the stagnant Chicago heat. She was just close enough to reach out and touch and she glowed, royally.

A song I usually skipped over, “I Didn't Just Come Here to Dance” caused me to grab the shoulders of the person in front of me, using them as a kind of catapult to bring myself closer to the stage with every dancey jump I made. Instead of being annoyed they just turned around and smiled at me (and had the most spectacular pink eyebrows I had ever seen).

I could feel a collective heart swell from the thousands dancing with and around me. I locked eyes with someone I didn't know and we screamed “Gimme Love” to each other. Every song played out like it were a number one hit and it was clear that nearly everyone had memorized the entire album. I had never witnessed a crowd at Pitchfork with that much energy, proving once again that women and femmes make for the most powerful audience. It seemed as though we had all met up beforehand and made a pact to just Be Chill and Smile at Eachother.

During each, albeit small, break between songs I saw friends grabbing each others arms, as a small symbol of “HEY. WE'RE ALIVE AND WE ARE HERE. THIS IS AMAZING. I LOVE YOU." Although, it's possible that I'm projecting, but one thing I knew for certain was that we were all celebrating. And for me it felt like a special kind of celebration, one for not wanting to die anymore.