With only a few days since its release, Speedy Ortiz’s sophomore album, Foil Deer (Carpark), is receiving a warm welcome in the music crit circuit. Their tour just kicked off too, with Mitski and Krill joining this Bowery Ballroom bill that ultimately made for a very sentimental night.
Three-piece and fellow Massachusetts garage rock band, Krill, opened up the show with minimal commentary, slashing into song after song. Jonah Furman’s tangible vocal stylings protract lyrics with both vulnerability and apprehension. In their last song, Tiger, bold drumming surprisingly rose from a very minimalist setup while guitarist Aaron Ratoff expelled equally brash distortion with tweaks and twangs, entering a frequency of its own.
Mitski followed and, even with a few input malfunctions on her florescent pink custom bass, leader Mitski Miyawaki did not miss a beat introducing her band and stating, “Nothing is going to stop us from rock ‘n’ roll!” Opening up with Townie, an ode to that bittersweet experience of growing the fuck up, it became immediately apparent that Miyawaki isn’t just shooting from the hip. In an uplifting commentary between songs, she shared a recent letter received from her mother that caused her to “cry like a baby.” She continued with, “but the thing with babies… is they are useless and weak, [they] need someone to care for them.” Then reminding the crowd, “there was at least one person fighting for you to live at one point… so no matter what kind of day you’re having or what you are questioning, remember that.” Towards the end, Last Words From A Shooting Star was further evidence of poignant songwriting backed by a prolific voice, and secured Mitski as act to keep your eye on.
Speedy Ortiz took the stage, focusing on songs from Foil Deer, a record shaped with more thoughtful and ambitious intentions than its predecessor, Major Arcana. Witness the openeing song, Graduates, the new album’s single that dotes on the reality of being just a friend to your crush and the angst that comes with that runner-up status; and Raising The Skate, an anthem of female empowerment. Foil Deer also exposes more of the group’s musical capabilities, like the R&B undertones in Puffer.
They continued with other heavier themes as in Dot X and especially My Dead Girl, a stunning track that paints the dark cloud of a girl’s independence being threated by the harassment and assault spawned from rape culture. Maintaining a punk rock mentality, they bantered with fans by callously shooting down suggestions from the crowd. But they still quenched the fans’ pallet for old hits by playing Ka-Prow! and Indoor Soccer, guitarist Devin McKnight flaring through his solid solos.
Singer Sadie Dupuis stated that she is genuinely proud to play the Bowery Ballroom for specific reasons. Her father was very fond of the venue, and after his passing a few months ago she shared, “I feel like I am playing for him a little bit.” Closing out with their B-side classic, Swim Fan, and an altered arrangement of American Horror, the lack of an encore was barely noticed and only seemed an extension of the band’s grounded aesthetic, despite their recent move from dingy hole-in-the wall venues to sold-out ballrooms.
Photos by Kassy Balli