A Night with Phoebe Bridgers
On June 11, Phoebe Bridgers finally arrived at The Anthem for the D.C. stop of her Reunion Tour, a concert that had been a long time in the making. Though the original date was set for Oct. 26, COVID restrictions pushed the date back 8 months, and the pent-up anticipation was undeniable; fans began lining up at dawn to secure the barricade, eager to absorb Bridgers's stage presence. Eyeliner was heavily applied and skeleton outfits were donned, a form of paying respect for the skeleton onesies consistently worn by Bridgers and her band during performances. Opener Claud took the stage and played multiple upbeat indie pop songs. Their music only fueled the flames of excitement. By the time Bridgers arrived on stage, about 5 people had to be escorted away by security because of the overbearing heat and lack of hydration. The Anthem appeared poorly equipped to host a crowd as dedicated as Phoebe fans.
Bridgers took the stage with Disturbed’s “Down with the Sickness,” an homage to her emo side. Bridgers, with her signature platinum-blonde do and glimmering skeleton top, graced the stage and struck a D-flat chord on her guitar, beginning her most popular song “Motion Sickness.” The overcast day through which fans waited was a perfect prelude to what was to come: the music was melancholy, like a dark cloudy sky; it was comforting, like raindrops on a hot summer day. The concert was filled with swaying, head bops, and even a little bit of hopping for her upbeat hit “Kyoto.”
The accompanying visuals told the story of Punisher as a picture book, flipping the page with every song they performed. Trees, flowers, and a bridge over a stream for “Garden Song.” A ghost, pumpkins, and headstones for “Halloween.” A UFO hovering over a cityscape for “Chinese Satellite.” For “Moon Song,” arguably the best example of her poetic lyricism, a full moon illuminated the entire stage. At the climax of the song, (“You are sick, and you’re married, and you might be dyin’/ But you’re holdin’ me like water in your hands”) fans emotionally screamed lyrics, embodying the frustration felt within the words. Listening to Bridgers’s music on Spotify is already a transcendent experience, but hearing her live is simply unforgettable.
Bridgers finished off the show with “I Know the End.” The existential dread filled ballad is a 6 minute build up to the climax: Bridgers and fans yelling “the end is here” and ending the song with a guttural scream. Though it may have sounded like a murder scene to anyone passing by, it was a moment of collective relief as fans released all the emotions and tension that had built up in the months waiting for this show.
But the show wasn’t over yet. Bridgers returned to the stage just moments after leaving to perform her encore: a choice between her two fan-favorite songs, “Waiting Room” and “Georgia”decided by a screaming battle between fans. “Waiting Room” won and solemnity fell over the crowd. Bridgers and fans sang together about unreciprocated love; about yearning, about wanting to do anything for the person you love to just notice you. When the song came to an end, the cheers were deafening. Once Bridgers exited the stage and the house lights came up, the utopia in which fans were tranced for a few short hours came to an end. Disbelief sunk in as fans who had waited months for the concert, including myself, replayed the night's occurrences in their minds. Bridgers filled The Anthem with a sense of comfort, acceptance, and radiance; her captivating stage presence remained ingrained in my memory and kept me reminiscing long after the concert had ended.
Lucy is a sophomore in the College and is currently undecided.