Phoebe Bridgers
Phoebe Bridgers | Credit: Marc Grimwade/WireImage

Phoebe Bridgers Review – Disarming Melancholy and Gleeful Rebellion in Melbourne

Phoebe Bridgers performed at Melbourne’s Margaret Court Arena on Wednesday, 8th February. Bella Wong reviews.

The first song Phoebe Bridgers sings at her Melbourne show is not hers. The stadium is half-full as she cheekily joins support act Christian Lee Hutson, telling the crowd that Hutson is her “favourite person who’s ever quit my band.” They sing ‘Lose This Number’ and ‘Rubberneckers’ together, comparing misheard lyrics.

Bridgers admits, “My manager thought that in [the song] ‘Chinese Satellite’… that at the end of it was, ‘I want to belong’, and I was like, that is so fucking stupid – I can’t believe you thought that was one of my lyrics.”

The line is, of course, “I want to go home.” When she sings it later, to a full house, the crowd screams it along with her. Fans have been lining up since 8am. One faints in the middle of the set. At some point, Bridgers sticks the microphone out to two fans and their contributions rival this moment with Beyoncé. She apologises for touching the mic to their teeth.

Phoebe Bridgers – ‘Chinese Satellite’

Bridgers opens the set with her 2017 song ‘Motion Sickness’ – a hilarious rebuke of a cruel mentor and ex, which began her sharp ascent to worshipped icon of the sad and drifting. Her voice is fuller six years on, her heartbreaking falsetto slicing through the screams of besotted fans.

Much of the set is dedicated to her latest record, Punisher. Introducing ‘Kyoto,’ Bridgers admits that she wrote the song for her dad. She asks the crowd, “Who has a dead dad?” The crowd screams. “Hand up for dead dad.” Fewer screams. “Aw, I love you guys. It’s a shitty club. Yeah, my dad’s dead.”

Before she begins the song, she pauses, then says, “I love you.” It’s unclear if this is to her fans or her father. There is a compelling intimacy to Bridgers, the banal is always shot through with tragedy. She sings, “I don’t forgive you / But please don’t hold me to it.”

But Bridgers is no tragic figure. On stage, she is energetic, running around, cracking jokes with Marshall Vore, her drummer and ex. She is joyous and thrilled. But she is also angry; playing at Margaret Court Arena, she takes a stand against Court’s homophobia: “Fuck that stupid ass dumb ass bitch. Fuck that stupid cunt. Change the name! Who wants to say ‘fuck Margaret Court’ on three?” The crowd gleefully obeys. Someone yells, “Phoebe Bridgers made me gay!”

Her music is always disarming in its solitude and melancholy, and that intimacy has created a legion of devoted fans and creative friendships. One result being the supergroup Boygenius, where Bridgers writes music with friends and fellow musicians Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker. She ends the night with ‘Emily I’m Sorry’, written for the band’s forthcoming album, the record. It’s the perfect song to end on, with lyrics that encapsulate Bridgers’ searching, wrenching music: “Emily, I’m sorry I just / Make it up as I go along.”

Further Reading

Phoebe Bridgers Led a “Fuck Margaret Court” Chant at Her Melbourne Show Last Night

Christian Lee Hutson to Play Debut Australian Headline Shows Alongside Phoebe Bridgers Support Slots

Boygenius Announce Full-Length Album And Share Three Singles

Must Read