I had known about MILCK from the women’s march last year, and had heard about her song “Quiet” which had gone viral after she and a group of 25 women she had never met, sing the song live at the march. I had listened to her songs and felt their vibey emotions and heard the rawness and honesty in her voice, but there’s something about seeing MILCK live that will change your perspective of her as an artist. Something that changes the cells in your body.
She begins her set with “Devil, Devil,” a pretty dark track when you play the record — but more surprisingly, she plays completely alone on-stage — with no band members. And no — it doesn’t turn into an “acoustic” set — as every song carries the same weight and epic edge that the recordings carry. She goes from live looping from a drum pad, to repeating short heavy breaths into the mic — creating her own beat by layering things on, one by one. It’s seemingly complicated to watch, but it also reads like it’s MILCK’s true place — in the moment, creating something that only she can.
It’s one of those things where I’m not sure audience members really understand what’s going on — Ed Sheeran live loops, Kanye live loops, but does the general public understand that a track is being built before your very eyes every single night on tour? Do they understand that this very version, will never exist again, because it’s going to be re-created for a different audience tomorrow? Do they see that the slight nuances of every time she builds these tracks have been specifically created for us on that night only? There’s an exclusivity to that that I’m not sure people appreciate in the moment.
With just two keyboards and her voice, MILCK will take you on an emotional ride with her songs. And live looping aside, the tracks sound the same as the records which isn’t something easily accomplished by many musicians. But perhaps the most interesting moment of her performance was a ten minute moment where MILCK told us in her own words who she was. And no, this wasn’t like reading a bio or some contrived story of inspiration — it was a moment of “real.” It was the story of a Chinese-American girl who never really felt like she fit in, growing up in a world with expectations, playing her music in the lobby of hotels, being the victim of abuse — but also the story of an artist taking the art that she knew how to make best, and literally giving it away to her audience, claiming that her songs were simply no longer hers. MILCK’s music and words are undeniably a gift in that sense.
The barrier between stage and audience — between “rockstar” and mere “groupie” had been dropped to the floor in that moment. If you could bottle those ten minutes and send them around the world for people to experience, they’d get a sense of who MILCK truly is.
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