Mitski is on tour across North America right now in support of her excellent new album Laurel Hell and the temptation for those without tickets (or even those with) is to hit YouTube and hear how new songs like "Stay Soft" and "Love Me More" and sounding live. It's become a habit aided by the fact that recording parts of, or even the whole show, has become a staple of live music alongside waiting in line for a drink and picking up merch. However, in a lengthy tweet thread posted on Thursday, Mitski has asked her supporters to try put their phones away and embrace living in the moment for an hour or two.
“I wanted to speak with you about phones at shows,” she wrote. “They’re part of our reality, I have mine on me all the time, and I’m not against taking photos at shows (though please no flash lol). But sometimes when I see people filming entire songs or whole sets, it makes me feel as though we are not here together. This goes for both when I’m on stage, and when I’m an audience member at shows.”
Music is a rare artform where documenting the live experience is the norm. Cameras are generally banned in movie theaters and during stage shows, while some big name comedians go as far as demanding fans lock their phones in lockers prior to their arrival on stage. Clearly, Mitski isn't asking for anything so drastic, but she is clear that in her mind a phone-free night is more enjoyable.
“I love shows for the feeling of connection, of sharing a dream, and remembering that we have a brief miraculous moment of being alive at the same time, before we part ways,” she continued. “I feel I’m part of something bigger. When I’m on stage and look to you but you are gazing into a screen, it makes me feel as though those of us on stage are being taken from and consumed as content, instead of getting to share a moment with you.”
Ultimately, it's down to the fans discretion but hopefully now they know how Mitski feels. “I don’t want to be greedy, I’m fortunate to get to play,” she explained. “Just putting out there that sometimes, if we’re lucky, we can experience magic at a show. But only if we’re there to catch it.”
This summer Mitski will play a host of dates opening for Harry Styles which, you have to assume, might be a little harder to police.