REVIEW: Phoebe Bridgers sings sad songs in vibrant color
With long awaited rescheduled tour dates in D.C., Bridgers brings life to her ethereal, heartsick poeticism at The Anthem
Being a fan of singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers is not just a pastime, but a lifestyle. The Bridgers-brand sad girl aesthetic runs deeper than her chosen brand of folksy-indie. The veins of her music are authentically self-aware, despairing and most importantly, authentically Phoebe. Her fans are equally if not more dedicated to the Phoebe way of life. The crowds flocking to her sold out concert at The Anthem on June 11 was a clear reflection of that.
In the past two and half years, Bridgers has become more than just a beloved lyrical, soft spoken artist. She is a musical powerhouse, an icon to all who have a thirst to scream-cry over the heartwrenching aspects of life. The 27-year-old is also a queer sensation, with songs like “Graceland Too” speaking to the saphic experience, which not often finds its representation in music. Self-identifying as bisexual, it only seemed perfect for the first rescheduled tour date in D.C. to fall on the night of the Capital Pride Parade.
After a long delay rescheduling her D.C. tour dates from last fall due to COVID-19 concerns, the first night of two sold out shows on June 11 was the most anticipated night in months for D.C. fans. A crowd of young Bridgersfanatics, or self-proclaimed “Pharbz,”, started camping outside The Anthem at noon, several hours before the doors opened. For the rest who did not dedicate their entire day to the artist, the line to get into the venue spanned a few blocks and took nearly a half hour to get through. Inside, people filled every inch of the venue on both floors, beaming with excitement.
Diving right into her set with her most streamed song “Motion Sickness,” she nonchalantly entered the smoky stage, while fans chanted every lyric. Spacey backdrops, deep blues, purples, and green lights twinkled on the artist’s stage throughout the night, setting the tone for her intimate, dreamy discography.
She stayed humble as she delivered an enchanting fingerpicking riff, holding the emotion of each word in “Garden Song.” Behind her unfolded an impressive digital display of a book opened with pop out features of a garden.
Next, bringing a bit of upbeat angst into the room as a change up, Bridgers hopped with her guitar playing the first notes of “Kyoto.” An ode to dead-beat fathers somehow lit up the room with the most energy the whole night. Yet, that’s just the power of Bridgers and her music. “I wanna kill you if you don’t beat me to it,” the artist sang as vibrant light beamed on her, her band and her dancing fans.
Jumping into perhaps her most depressing ballad about grief, fans let out guttural shrieks hearing the first notes of “Funeral.” Welcoming the audience to the song’s fantasy, the crowd hung onto every word as if it were their own. The crowd sang back the chorus “Jesus Christ, I’m so blue all the time,” symbolically speaking to the mood of her fanbase.
While each performance held high emotion, the in-between banter Bridgers had with her band, especially her ex-boyfriend drummer, Marshall Vore, made the concert feel almost like hanging out with the star. Before performing “ICU,” she poked fun at Vore about the song they co wrote after breaking up.
It’s clear that Bridgers acknowledges the rare level of connection she has with her fans. As an outspoken advocate for reproductive rights, the crowds whistled and clapped as the artist talked about abortion as a form of healthcare in between songs. Through shared pain, humor and values like the belief in the right to choose when it comes to bodily autonomy and reproductive rights, the artist and her fans are in sync. After fans bounced from crying to screaming to dancing to maybe crying again, the night was over, but the bond that Bridgers and her fans share would live on.