Phoebe Bridgers‘ world tour visits our fair city on Wednesday June 8. Ironically titled her REUNION TOUR, it began in May and will take her across Europe, North & South America. Originally booked at the MTelus, the concert sold out quickly. Due to the high demand it’s been moved to the open air venue of Espace 67 at Parc Jean-Drapeau. After seeing the video of her performance at Red Rocks I am very excited to see her perform under the stars!
Her first album “Stranger in the Alps” was released on the respected label Dead Oceans and it cemented her status as an indie darling. Her second album “Punisher” earned her Grammy Award Nominations for Best New Artist, Best Rock Performance, Best Rock Song and Best Alternative Music Album. In total she has received at least 18 awards or nominations at major industry events. In 2022 she was honored with the Trailblazer Award at Billboard Magazine’s “Women in Music Awards“.
Her music is a devastatingly sad blend of neo-folk, indie pop and alternative rock, characterized by her ethereal whispering voice.
Her intimate confessional lyrics poetically ruminate about trauma, depression, anxiety & heartbreak in a way that resonates strongly with her fan base. She sings about the conflicting emotions generated by her violent alcoholic father, her bisexuality and her doomed romantic relationships with people of questionable morals.
Which leads to concerts that are supremely cathartic, a sort of group therapy where the audience is united by having a good cry together. Unsurprisingly her biggest musical influence is the tragically departed Elliot Smith.
She reminds me of Sinead O’Connor with her delicate elfin features and a voice so pure that it makes audiences weep. They both have sad eyes, a dry sense of humor and a radiant smile that can light the world on fire.
I first discovered her music due to a cover she did of “That Funny Feeling“, a song from Bo Burnham‘s brilliant pandemic themed film “Inside“. A film about how we are alone in quarantine searching for connection but the only tool available to us is the internet. Which is having a strange effect on our psyche, both individually and as a culture as we all struggle to keep it together despite bat-shit crazy circumstances.
When the quarantine ended she released a cover version on Bandcamp and donated all the proceeds to a Pro Choice charity in Texas. Soon after concerts were no longer forbidden and a video quickly went viral of her performing this song.
Seeing the audience singing along with this anthem about isolation gives me shivers. It is a perfect example of how her music transcends the sadness and unites people into a shared catharsis.
Yet another way she is similar to Sinéad O’Connor is how her 2021 performance on Saturday Night Live generated controversy. At the end of her emotional performance of “I Know The End” she smashed her guitar. Leading to a venomous outpouring of misogynist criticism from people who never get upset when male artists do the same thing.
The backlash was spearheaded by 1960’s folk singer David Crosby of CSNY. A flame war ensued on Twitter. He called it “a pathetic stunt”, she called him a “little bitch”. Rock stars like Flea and Dave Grohl were quick to defend her. She gracefully rose above the pettiness and turned the controversy into something positive by donating the now infamously damaged Danelectro guitar to GLAAD. They auctioned it off for $101,500 which went to support the various LGBTQ+ causes they represent.
The other aspect that is so notable about Phoebe Bridgers is the quantity & quality of her collaborations. Many have dubbed her a serial collaborator given all the Super Groups she is a member of.
She formed Better Oblivion Community Center with Conor Oberst from the band Bright Eyes. They launched the debut album on the Stephen Colbert Show, and promoted it on the indie circuit with performances on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert and KEXP.
She also teamed up with fellow female indie singer-songwriters Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus to form Boygenius. The songwriting, musicianship and three part vocal harmonies are truly exquisite. Their performance at Brooklyn Steel is off the charts incredible, particularly the song “Me & Me Dog” which culminates in a goose bump inducing moment where Phoebe ditches her signature whispering vocal style and screams her heart out.
But if I had to pick just one of her collaborations to feature, it would be the duets she did with Noah & Abby Gunderson. Words cannot describe the vulnerable beauty of this performance.
The melodic interplay of the pianos, the volume of their angelic harmonies rising and dropping in perfect symmetry. Noah’s black eye & bruised face the living embodiment of the devastating lyrics. A painful testament to a tortured soul’s yearning for grace. Listen to the sound of a million hearts breaking…
Evenko presents Phoebe Bridgers this Wednesday June 8 @ Espace 67, Parc Jean Drapeau. Buy your tickets here.
Like indie music? Don’t miss Pop Montreal’s 21st festival edition and its iconic headliner coming to you in 2022.
Simon is 20 years into a life sentence in the music biz. He's performed at major international festivals and worked with Grammy Award winners. As Music Curator for BKM he gives you a sneak peek behind the curtain...