“Romanticize a quiet life/There’s no place like my room.” 2020 was a year for Phoebe Bridgers. With the popularity of her first record “Stranger in the Alps” in 2017, not one but TWO supergroups, a slew of commercial appearances, and near-regular viral tweets, she was prepared to embark on a national tour with The 1975 that summer after appearances on their latest record. Then, the world kinda…shut down. With people being stuck in their homes, a year of hyper-awareness of the nightmarish world around us, created an even bigger inward reaction of introspection. By June 2020, Bridgers would not spend the summer on the road with The 1975 but instead, release her sophomore record “Punisher” from her LA home. However, her stardom with an insular crowd only skyrocketed her fame to a locked down screen-based audience. With appearances on NPR and performing to an empty crowd at Red Rocks, Bridgers then made the late-night rounds as the world sat and waited for the return of live music. Late Summer 2021, the “Phoebe Bridgers Reunion Tour” was announced, then quickly updated a week before the singer was set to hit the road that Fall as she moved the shows to all outdoor venues to avoid more COVID complications. This show was originally scheduled for the Egyptian Room at Old National Center in Downtown Indianapolis, but was moved to the much larger TCU Amphitheater at White River State Park.
LA-based trio MUNA have been steadily releasing records with an ever-increasing fanbase and an eclectic sound singer Katie Gavin (she/her) describes as “a buffet of genres” that has made them the perfect opening act for everyone from Kacey Musgraves to Harry Styles. The band’s explosive presence saw them hit the stage with the synthpop banger “Number One Fan” that skewers the modern parasocial relationships between artists and fans. I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t lose all self-awareness of these words and absolutely yell the lyrics back at the band. The trio of Katie, Jojo (she/her) and Naomi (they/them) ripped through a set of their previous records “About U ” and “Saves the World ” that range from dance-pop to country ballads. Recently, the group got signed to Bridgers’ own label “Saddest Factory” with their first release “Silk Chiffon” with a verse by Phoebe Bridgers, released one day before the show. However, Bridgers’ line was sang by Naomi, infusing a bit more of their soulful vocal approach into the track. MUNA closed with their cathartic queer dance anthem “I Know A Place” that helped usher in a crowd ready for a solid hour plus of big emotions.
Grow Intro (Instrumental Walk On)
Number One Fan
Crying on the Bathroom Floor
I Know a Place
“I hate you for what you did/And I miss you like a little kid” Bridgers began her set with “Motion Sickness,” crooning the complex emotions of her tumultuous relationship with southern rock singer Ryan Adams, who has seen his own fall from grace due to similar allegations of abuse from other women in the music industry. Playing on a seemingly bare stage, a massive projector screen suddenly dropped from the rafters and large bookcase set pieces rotated to introduce the storybook setting of “Punisher” with the intro instrumental “DVD Menu.” The introspection of the sophomore record makes for an exhilarating narrative of a listening experience, where Bridgers’ minimal composition underscores her intense poetry. As a live experience having a crowd truly makes the connection to her words entirely breathtaking. From a crowd weeping to “Moon Song” to the utter devastation of “Funeral,” Bridgers’ self-deprecating joke of “here’s another slow song!” plays into her own approach to songwriting with the uptempo tracks like “Kyoto” to a minimum. Similarly, she played a handful of tracks from “Stranger in the Alps” on a “Punisher” heavy setlist. With a full band, the orchestrations of her tracks are on full display as Bridgers is flanked by horns and strings like on her remix record “Copycat Killer EP.” Having already moved her tour to all outdoor shows, the idea of a worldwide pandemic lingered over a good amount of the crowd’s heads. Bridgers’ track “I Know the End ” played to massive impact, not only for her infamous SNL guitar stage monitor smash heard round the world, but for its lyrics detailing the mundane life at the apocalypse. Belting out her final screams with a crowd equally releasing the frustration of the world around them as the “Punisher” pop-up book burns behind her. As color bars of a TV with no signal and feedbacking guitars play like an air-raid siren, Bridgers walked back on stage armed only with her guitar to croon the anthem of the eschaton, “That Funny Feeling” from Bo Burnham’s brilliant Netflix special “Inside” with the level of bare introspection that fits so effortlessly in a Phoebe Bridgers set.
Phoebe Bridgers Setlist
Me & My Dog (Boygenius Song)
I Know the End
That Funny Feeling (Bo Burnham Cover)