I was so glad that the weather was so nice during my first outdoor concert in like three years. I was pretty tired from the concert I went to the night before, so I figured this would be a great show to settle on the grass and enjoy while relaxing. I needed to be sitting to see Phoebe Bridgers. I truly love her music, but I cannot listen to a full album in one sitting purely because it makes me way too sad. So I had been trying to figure out how the hell I was going to watch her entire performance without combusting.
Before having your soul crushed by Phoebe Bridgers’ performance, Claud took the stage as her opener. Claud and their band had excellent energy. They danced along to their set and encouraged the crowd to dance with them, expressing that they’re not a very good dancer, so it would be easier if everyone had joined them.
Claud’s music is catchy and kind-hearted. They sing about love, and how complicated those feelings could be when it’s directed towards a friend. Gay bedroom pop is a guilty pleasure of mine, except I feel no shame about it. Songs written by Claud like “Cuff Your Jeans” and “Wish You Were Gay” are just perfect for dancing while cleaning your kitchen and even more so for a live performance. Claud has love for their craft, which is obvious to the viewer as they watch them perform on stage.
Before performing their song called “That’s Mr Bitch to You”, Claud had asked the crowd if they were angry, and gave everyone the opportunity to let that anger out in a good scream. They then explained that the song is about being called a bitch, and although the track is about a subject that would instinctively bring me to frustration, the song itself is very upbeat, bringing the listener to dance off those negative feelings while singing along to its lyrics.
Albeit everyone had fun during Claud’s set, it was time for the star of the night. Cheering that could be heard from across the concert area in Parc Jean Drapeau floated up into the air as the intermission music faded out, leaving room for Disturbed’s “Down With the Sickness” to begin playing. And just as the iconic “Ooh ah ah ah ah” part rolled around, Phoebe Bridgers herself walked onto stage with her guitar hanging from her shoulders. She waved and smiled at the crowd that was screaming out their vocal cords for her, and without wasting any time at all, she dove right into her set with “Motion Sickness”.
Behind her was a giant screen displaying twinkling stars, creating the illusion of a night’s sky right behind her. Her voice was beautiful and clear, each painful lyric sang with grace. Her audience sang along with her, so loudly that the microphone feed was picking up on it and we could hear everyone’s voices perfectly from a distance.
The visuals were breathtaking and clever. During “Garden Song”, a book titled “Punisher” floated on the screen, rotating as the cover flipped open to reveal a 3D pop-up book effect of a beautiful garden scene with a variety of vegetation and trees, and a bridge curved over a small creek. Phoebe played the entirety of her 2020 album “Punisher”, and each song had a different scene in the pop-up book. For the chilling “Kyoto”, a piece of the city Kyoto and a cherry blossom tree were pictured, then changed to the mountain range pictured in the album cover for “Punisher” when its title track was performed.
Phoebe Bridgers has a certain charm when she’s on stage. When her soft voice travels through the open air, it’s as though everything around disappears. The pink and purple sunset went ignored while Phoebe was performing. I just could not tear my eyes away from her or the screen behind her.
“Who here has a wedgie?” Phoebe quietly asked into her microphone as she raised her own hand. She waited a moment for the crowd to settle before continuing, “Anyways… I’ll push through.” And then moved on with her next song. Her positive attitude throughout the whole show was a good source of comfort, and that comfort was much needed. Not just because her songs make me want to cry as I crawl under a rock, but mainly because the crowd seemed to be having quite a few issues. The first time her set was interrupted, she asked what was wrong and made sure that the person was okay. She instructed the crowd on how to get her attention, and from then on there were probably about 5 or 6 interruptions. No one was rushed out of the crowd, and nothing seemed to be too serious, but she stopped each time to be sure that she got that thumbs up from whoever got her attention.
One song that really struck me was “Moon Song”. A small waterside village was pictured in the pop-up book, a large observatory on top of the hill behind it. The full moon shone brightly above, almost illuminating the entirety of the small village. As the song progressed, the image started to zero in on the full moon, zooming in on it until it took up the entirety of the screen with Phoebe’s silhouette beautifully outlined in its light.
She had gone into the crowd, walking by all her screaming fans as she sang to them up close. She held her microphone up to someone who after saying something along the lines of “Oh my god, what the fuck, hello!”, sang along with Phoebe Bridgers. When she got back onto the stage, a red cowboy hat sat on top of her head that a fan had given her, which she politely tipped towards the giant crowd of people there to watch her.
I’m still not too sure how the hell my heart survived that show, but I’m pleased to say that by some miracle I’m still here and got to tell my tale. Although Phoebe Bridgers’ music is incredibly sad, it’s also remarkably comforting. Having the chance to watch her perform each song was just spectacular, and seeing it all paired with stunning visuals gives them a fresh new perspective. Phoebe Bridgers is such an angelic performer. Her voice is beautiful and enticing, drawing in your attention until she becomes the only thing you can focus on.
Review – Jamie Siddall
Photos – Steve Gerrard