Seeing Phoebe Bridgers perform live is an experience that is equally as mystifying as it is enthralling.
Listening to her album, the raw emotion and downbeat pace of her tracks would lead you to believe that seeing her perform songs such as ‘Funeral’ live would be a stony affair.
After all, singing along to the line “I’m singing at a funeral tomorrow, For a kid a year older than me” seems as though it would be at least a little upsetting.
But while the nature of Phoebe Bridgers’ songs are far from uplifting, her live performance is something else entirely.
There is something about being in a room full of people who are content just to stay quiet and listen to Phoebe play through her catalogue of songs, that forms a sense of unification in the crowd. And this is a comforting feeling to have with a group of strangers.
When Phoebe comes onto the stage, clad in an angelic white dress, armed with an acoustic guitar and flanked with a band donning tuxedo suits, it’s hard to imagine that someone so porcelain could fill the room with her voice. But that is exactly what she does.
From start to finish, Gorilla is hers.
The venue compliments the set perfectly. With the opening song being Smoke Signals, the fog creeping in front of the stage lights and curved ceiling add a level of theatricality to the performance.
A pair of disco balls hanging from the ceiling cast tiny flecks of light onto the stage, adding to the feeling that we are all witnessing something magical unfold. Which really, I suppose we are.
As Bridgers plays through songs like Killer, which tell a story both beautiful and tragic at once, the audience stay silent and hang off every word that is sung, as if waiting to hear what happens in the tale.
While, this is different from the high energy gigs that you may be used to, it is amazing to see the control that Phoebe Bridgers can have over a crowd.
The word entertainer may give off connotations of people dancing and singing along, but holding the attention of a room of people who have come to simply hear you perform is on a different level. And Phoebe manages it with ease.
This transits into the interaction Bridgers has with the audience. While she doesn’t say a lot, when she does, the audience laps it up. Stories of how songs came into being, whether it is from a place of anger or a bad trip, are shared as they would be with friends. This, along with the conversational tone she uses, continue to make it feel like we are all just a group with a shared interest.
A welcomed change from what can sometimes feel like crazed fans, watching an idol.
That is not to say that Phoebe can’t emit energy when she needs to.
Watching the singer transition from the haunting tones of older tracks like Steamroller, through to the most angsty track on the set, Motion Sickness, is like watching a high voltage switch be flipped.
Motion Sickness crescendos throughout, getting louder and louder until it climaxes in Phoebe half singing, half screaming into the microphone.
It’s impossible to believe this is the same girl from previous tracks. Just like it is impossible to not be in awe and it is impossible to not feel every word she is singing like you wrote them yourself.
Her voice and performance are so powerful that the applause she received lasts well over thirty seconds. Not a single person in the room looks anything less than stunned.
To say Phoebe Bridgers isn’t versatile would to be an outright lie.
When Bridgers teases a new song in her encore, this energy is seen again, and the crowd goes wild, and for a good reason. If this is a sign of things to come, it won’t be long before Phoebe Bridgers is selling out venues twice this size, and stunning double the amount of people into silence.
Listen to Me and My Dog below.
Featured Image Credit, Adam Snape