Phoebe Bridgers by Madalaine Kutsch
Phoebe Bridgers performed an emotionally charged set at the Doug Fir Lounge on April 26. She was accompanied by Lomelda, a solo act, which opened the show with their vibrant vocals and heavy lyrics. The performances were none other than ethereal and entirely captivating. Both artists being absolute powerhouses of talent, left their audience moved from beginning to end.
The stage was dimly lit in a variety of colored lights, changing slightly and ominously. The room slowly filled with patrons of the Doug Fir, patiently awaiting the performances of Lomelda and Phoebe Bridgers. The anticipation grew as Lomelda took their place on the stage, and within moments we were made aware what a heartfelt and effervescent performance would be put on before us. They sang with the tenacity of a shy bird, with the power of a siren. The notes floated around us like a breeze from a window. Always present and always comforting. Their lyrics created a fantasy before us, like witnessing a daydream before our own eyes. Tangible. Heart wrenching. Lomelda had their fair share of technical difficulties, but the crowd was all too eager to give a whole hearted “Woo!” in support. Lomelda never left the crowd out of the loop when it came to making jokes involuntarily. The crowd also returned their tenacity and genuine humility. Their set was quite a joy to experience, having little to no knowledge of what I was expecting, I was pleasantly enamored with them.
The band that accompanied Phoebe Bridgers took to the stage next. Stringing Christmas lights around the drum kit which had Phoebe’s name on it in metal font. It gave a comical edge to what would be a rather emotional and heartfelt performance. Phoebe’s sense of humor had influence on that font choice, I’m sure. They continued stringing lights on her mic stand and soon the band dispersed. Moments later, they reemerged all clad in suits. Phoebe was last to take to the stage, her face down and determined. They immediately began “Smoke Signals,” the first track of Stranger In The Alps which was released in September of 2017. Phoebe lifted her eyes occasionally, focused on a point at the back of the room. Her eyes cast a heavy gaze, and often seemed too heavy for her to carry alone and she let them close again. Her voice resonated as it did the first time I’d ever heard “Georgia.” Capturing me, heart and soul, I was rendered emotional. As if hearing every word for the first time, I was struck by the weight of it.
There was no mistaking that the crowded room was insanely hot. Phoebe joked multiple times about the inability to keep the guitars tuned, having to pause to casually mention that she felt we were in hell itself. Between the heat and the out of tune guitars, her joke resonated with the crowd. There wasn’t a moment that she or the band left us wondering if they were enjoying themselves. They left Phoebe to perform “Steamroller” and Tom Petty’s “It Will All Work Out,” both songs being a reassuring comfort. “Motion Sickness” brought the band back to the stage, and having heard this song more times than I can count, I thought I had an idea what inspired the lyrics. “This song is about a grown ass adult man, that won’t go down on his partner,” Phoebe explained to the crowd before breaking into the tune. The band had a lot of fun performing this song. Phoebe interacted with each member and gave a playful smile to the drummer.
“You Missed My Heart” was the first song of the encore. She was accompanied alone by Marshall, the drummer, and their harmonies were incredibly well achieved. Their melancholy voices and long drawn faces gave a window into the story being told. During the song Phoebe kicked off her shoes and let herself down to the floor of the stage. Singing the remainder of the song there, as if the weight of it was pulling her downward. She looked so casual, and yet performed with high energy. Their final song of the evening was a cover of Sheryl Crow’s “If It Makes You Happy,” which the entire room lit up to sing along with. “I wanted to end a very sad set on a lighter note,” Phoebe explained with a smile as she thanked us for being there and to the staff of the Doug Fir Lounge for having them.
Phoebe Bridgers and Lomelda both, are not talents or forces to be ignored. Phoebe’s exquisite storytelling ability in her song writing, is captivating and relatable to anyone who hears her music. Seeing her perform live after only having heard her voice through speakers, was an experience I will cherish forever and not soon forget. If you need music that sounds the way a comfort blanket feels, Stranger In The Alps is the record for you.