Phoebe Bridgers


We’re in a bit of a golden era for young women making exceptional albums with, gasp, guitars rather than synths and a vocoder, like so many of their male peers. Artists like Snail Mail, Soccer Mommy, Julien Baker, Mitski, Lucy Dacus and tonight’s star turn Phoebe Bridgers are all making brilliant, emotional, funny, exciting music in a way men just aren’t at the moment, and it’s so, so good to hear. And what’s more, most of them are young. Like, “shit me, I’m so old compared to these amazing talents” young. Soccer Mommy is 20, Snail Mail is 19, and Bridgers is just 24; it’s astonishing how incredible they all are at such tender ages. And it’s astonishing how brilliantly Bridgers commands the stage tonight, with a backing band of three others, leaving the room *cliche alert* quiet enough to hear a pin drop throughout her set.

Gorilla is rammed on this balmy August evening, which naturally means the place is sweltering. Bridgers and her band enter the stage to a rapturous reception, and quickly silence us with the first song from her stunning debut album Stranger in the Alps, the glorious ‘Smoke Signals’, her voice delicately soaring over sweetly picked guitars, it’s a beautiful introduction. Quickly following is ‘Funeral’, which has some of the saddest opening lines ever: “I’m singing at a funeral tomorrow/For a kid a year older than me/And I’ve been talking to his dad; it makes me so sad/When I think too much about it I can’t breathe. It grabs you by the heart and doesn’t let you go for the four minute duration, it’s incredibly poignant. On ‘Georgia’, her voice absolutely soars, and it’s thrilling to hear Bridgers let it go, piercing above the music and the noisy (relatively useless) fans in operation on the ceiling.

About this point, some complete douchebag takes it upon himself to shout “it sounds rubbish”, which a) it really doesn’t, the sound is pretty crystal, and b) is such a fucking obnoxious, stupid thing to shout at a 24 year old in the middle of her brilliant gig when the entire crowd is engrossed and loving it. There are plenty of boos and “fuck offs” thrown in his general direction, and she coolly looks down to him and simply says, “I’m sorry if this isn’t for you,” before carrying on like nothing has happened. Following the next song, the whoops and applause from the crowd are twice as loud; don’t worry Phoebe, we’ve got you. She then sings ‘Motion Sickness’, “the angriest song I’ve ever written,” which is betrayed by its jaunty rockabilly, but you can feel her seethe through the lyrics.

A couple of covers are beautifully done: Gillian Welch’s ‘Everything is Free’ becomes an impassioned tirade against music as a commodity, but it’s the absolutely knockout encore cover of Mark Kozelek’s ‘You Missed My Heart’, which appears on her album, that is the highlight of the evening. It’s a gorgeous, wonderful song, and in Bridgers’ hands it results in barely a dry eye in the house, it’s utterly beguiling and emotionally pure. She ends with a new song, bravely and brilliantly, and then is gone, leaving the audience with a glimpse of what might be to come from the future of this exciting young talent. Bridger’s next stop is forming a supergroup with aforementioned fellow songwriters Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus; I’m not sure the world will be able to handle three such brilliant people writing music together, but I cannot wait to hear the results.

Phoebe Bridgers: Official | Facebook | Twitter