With sweat and eager foot patting, a sold-out crowd on Saturday night at the Columbus’ EXPRESS LIVE! were chatting, trying to distract themselves from the miles-long minutes that couldn’t go by fast enough. Indie folk maestro, Phoebe Bridgers, would appear anytime.
She had already made a brief entry by joining her opener, MUNA – a trio that deserves all the praise in the world for their energy – with her section on the band’s latest track, “Silk Chiffon”. But the wait for his full set was almost too much to bear.
For the most part, that hot September night was the first gig since COVID-19 made live performances temporarily impossible. It took Pontiers just seconds after it opened, “Motion Sickness”, to remind the crowd why the wait was worth it.
If it wasn’t just Bridgers walking the stage in her familiar skeleton costume that rocked the crowd, the guitar hit of her biggest hit certainly did. For miles, cathartic cries of vulnerability, violent exes and acting out could be heard. “Motion Sickness”, while devastating and a track no one should ever have to write, seemed to be the key to hope for so many in this crowded room. It’s one of those songs you have to shout with a bunch of people who know its weight to be able to fully grasp it.
Bridgers played all the tracks from his last album, punisher. Not to mention that she played it in order with a few songs from her early days, Foreigner in the Alps, as well as a piece from his side project boygenius with Julien Boulanger and Lucy dacus spliced all over.
The best part of the evening, hands down, was his performance of boygenius’ “Me & My Dog”. The original – a silent, acoustic track about getting away from it all – came to life better than we ever imagined.
The crowd came to a complete stop and nothing could be heard or felt except for Bridgers’ subdued voice, soft guitar strumming, and the sting of his words. Complete peace was achieved in those three and a half minutes, something that may never be seen again, especially in a packed house of hypnotized fans.
During “Moon Song,” Bridgers had to stop for about a minute as medics were called in to help several people who passed out from heat exhaustion. This has happened more than once. Every time the audience threw a light at her, she would stop the set and wait for everything to be OK again.
In this case, the wait was so long that she asked the crowd if they should start the trail all over again – to which everyone shouted with affirmative calls. Even though most Bridgers fans recognize her as some otherworldly being, she reminded everyone in this crowd that she is just a normal human who wants to make sure everyone is okay. long before he does his thing.
Moving visuals of everyone punisher the track served as a backdrop, providing additional insight into the songs already filled to the brim with intricate intricate detail. During “Chinese Satellite,” a spacecraft hovered over the community it was preparing to suck into space. During the closer, “I Know The End,” a house slowly burned down as the apocalypse came true. They were all colorful, meticulous and well done.
Bridgers returned for a encore performance of Bo Burnham’s “That Funny Feeling,” a track about sitting down and really thinking about how fucked up the world is, causing a disease that bubbles up in your stomach. Already an incredibly damning track, the cover featured Bridgers’ own sad, slow spin that was enough to silence the crowd once again.
When Bridgers and company waved and left, no one knew what to do except wishing they could start the day again. As Bridgers herself said midway through the show, “It’s like rock show energy but with folk music.” It’s something the Columbus crowd will never forget – not as they ever would.