A reunion with Phoebe Bridgers

Phoebe Bridgers performed at Leader Bank Pavilion, an outdoor amphitheater located in South Boston, on Sept. 26. Jack Clohisy / The Tufts Daily

​​Over a year has passed since Phoebe Bridgers released her Grammy-nominated second LP “Punisher” (2020), and after the pandemic delayed most chances for Bridgers to perform live in front of her fans, she finally hit the road with her band on a reunion tour in September. Traveling nationwide, this is the first time Bridgers is able to perform her newest hits in front of audiences ready to break out their best screams for “I Know the End” and tears for the remainder of her catalogue.

The air was cool on Sept. 26, and the merchandise lines were full of eager Bridgers fans awaiting the sight of the signature skeleton suit she frequently dons during her live performances. Shirts and vinyl records plastered with skeleton outlines, pink guitars and ghosts were in abundance. The chill of the early fall air set the tone for the moody crowd ambitious to hear their favorite artist perform the time-appropriate “Halloween” (2020). With the combination of a growing fanbase after “Punisher” was met with critical acclaim and a year-long drought of concert performances since then, fans were coming out in droves to see their favorite sad songstress.

Muna opened the first night of the Boston leg on Bridgers’ tour, and as their set neared its conclusion, Bridgers took the stage to perform the acts’ new collaboration “Silk Chiffon” (2021). Fingerless gloves and arm sleeves adorned with skeleton graphics were ubiquitous as fans found their seats at the Leader Bank Pavilion. Once the venue was packed, fans began to grin behind their masks as Bridgers made her way onto stage with a black blazer and trousers accompanied by a shimmery white top beneath, resembling an iridescent rib cage.

When Bridgers opened with her set, fans were on their feet screaming along to the somber lyrics of “Kyoto” (2020), “Motion Sickness” (2017) and “Punisher.” The visual graphics behind Bridgers displayed picturesque pop-up books related to their respective tracks from the “Punisher” album.

Bridgers took some time between tracks to introduce her band, explain the meaning behind her songs and tune her guitar. She noted a time in her life when she’d get out of bed twice a day, eat Krispy Kreme, and go back to sleep; a time she says sounds fun but was one of the darkest periods of her life. She followed this story with “Funeral” (2017), a track encapsulating this period of her life. Fans of Bridgers know that most of her discography revolves around heavier topics such as depression and anxiety, so it is of interest that these themes are what unite the fans. The audience screamed  out “Jesus Christ, I’m so blue all the time/ And that’s just how I feel/ Always have and I always will.” This concert sounds more like the biggest group therapy session of all time than a star-studded concert in the heart of Boston.

As the night progresses, Bridgers tapped the songbook of her band Boygenius (with Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker) as she sings “Me & My Dog” (2018). It’s a fan favorite, and the versatility of Bridgers is not lost on the audience. Not only is her own repertoire equipped with some of the greatest lyrical pieces, but her collaborations with a multitude of artists shine through too.

Within the title track of “Punisher,” Bridgers seems to note two types of fans: trust funds and punishers. A trust fund refers to a fan who is able to afford to travel the country and watch an artist as frequently as desired, and a punisher is a fan who incessantly fawns over the artist to no end. While surely some in the audience came from more privileged backgrounds, most clearly exuded that “punishing” quality of genuine admiration for the art produced by Bridgers. No song went without the choir of skeletons in the crowd chanting back the dark lyrics contained within the setlist.

As the final pop-up book visual went up in flames during Bridgers’ performance of “I Know the End,” the final song Bridgers shared with her audience was her take on Bo Burnham’s “That Funny Feeling” (2021). As with any Bridgers cover, one could easily take the track for her own song. Only a few days after the concert, Bridgers released the cover on music-streaming and sales platform Bandcamp to raise money for Texas abortion funds.

A year in the making, Bridgers crafted a well-performed and engaging set for her fans centering around her biggest hits to date. Transitioning her concert into all-outdoors facilities to be COVID-19 conscious added to the appeal of Bridgers to fans. Despite the masks, the venue was full of walking skeletons who had been dying to see Bridgers all year long.


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