Ever wanted to feel like someone was caressing the skin over your torso with their soft hands, singing softly to you while the hum of a baritone guitar serenades you in the background?
That sounds nice, right?
Imagine now, just when you’re just about reach that euphoric sense of nirvana; that the hands cut through your skin, snap open your ribcage and rip your heart right out of your chest.
The perpetrator of this crime, as you look at her, smiles sweetly as she clutches your heart in her hands.
That’s what hearing Phoebe Bridgers play live feels like… pretty much.
Following the support act of the night, James Hindle of the band The Pooches, Bridgers walks on stage, meek and unassuming, to a roar of applause. She is followed by her best friend, Harrison, who accompanies on pedal steel and electric guitar throughout.
Bridgers opens with popular track ‘Smoke Signals’ to a packed – and when I say packed, I mean so full that there were signs up indicating that everyone should make as much of the space as possible – audience at Broadcast.
As the night goes on, it becomes apparent that her haunting vocals on record are only amplified in a live setting. There is not one hair on the back of my neck or arms that does not stand to attention when she raises her voice — notably on the song ‘Georgia’ and set closer ‘Motion Sickness.’
The divine irony and genius behind Bridgers boils down to how incredibly self-aware she is. In between songs, she asks the crowd the usual “how is everyone doing tonight?” Despite the fact it probably would’ve been enthusiastic regardless, her retort to the cheerful response is: “You’re all liars! It’s bummer town down here.” This is in reference to the general melancholic nature of her songs – both in their lyrical content and sound.
It is not “bummer town” because the songs are bad, not at all. The songs, and overall performance are very, very, very good. So good that it may or may not make you tear up two songs in and then subsequently be blinking back tears the entire show because oh my god these songs are so beautiful and emotiona- I mean…what? It was good.
Even her merchandise on sale tonight consists of various formats of her debut album, Stranger In The Alps, and one single black t-shirt. The only print on this is Bridgers’ name in a black metal-esque font. (Which, of course, I bought.)
One quite jarring moment of Bridgers’ open nature and honesty before playing her song ‘Killer,’ is the revelation that the man she recorded this with “would only record with me if he saw a picture of me first,” to which she also then quips, “I guess I passed the test,” before she starts playing.
(Author’s aside comment: Whoever this guy is, fuck him. Stranger In The Alps is an absolute triumph of a record and Bridgers is most definitely going to go far, no matter who she records with or what their creepy requests are.)
To sum up, listening to Phoebe Bridgers is an experience that will break your heart over and over again – in the best way possible – but in a live setting? Be prepared to pick up the many pieces of your scattered heart from the floor of whatever – this point on, they will most definitely be bigger than Broadcast’s cozy venue basement – venue you have the good fortune of seeing her in.