I am pleased to be seeing Phoebe Bridgers, whatever the occasion happened to be. After what feels like a series of underwhelming guest spots where she’s stuck doing someone’s backing vocals, it’s good to hear Phoebe do what she does best: a fusion of country, indie and all around melancholy survival.
She takes the stage in a classy suit, her band in the skeleton outfits, and you know exactly what you’re going to get: this is a polished, excellent performer who can do a great show. But there’s something else to Phoebe: I have always felt she’s better live than on record. Than when streaming or spinning her songs our a bit less touching than when she’s giving it everything live. You get more, a wonderful, emotive more, and perhaps it’s not just me who feels like because the crowd start to sing along as soon as she begins, before dropping into a polite listening.
A simple welcoming word to the crowd brings a huge roar: this crowd adore her. It’s not a Phoebe Bridgers show, it’s not even a festival dedicated to the genre she slays like Black Deer, it’s a huge event with hundreds of thousands of people, and everyone in this tent had to be here right now.
Phoebe takes us through her catalogue. She changes guitars, she steps forward slightly and gets a huge cheer, but the vibe is the same: a calming and cathartic handling of pain and life and a journey through many different lives. The subject is raw, the band are polished. I mean, the bit where Phoebe came to the crowd and someone sang into the mic wasn’t entirely on par, but who cares.
The mood is broken when Phoebe brings the real world back into the tent to lead a shout of “fuck the supreme court” and “fuck America,” which would take some explaining to anyone who’s been here since Wednesday with no internet access, but which will sadly become obvious on Monday. Or however long it takes them to come back to earth. There’s a surprise in the latter part of the set when Arlo Parks is invited onto the stage, for a pride special. After a few more songs Phoebe cuts loose with some screaming and raging guitar, and we all leave sadder, which is probably how we like it.