L.A.-based indie-folk queen Phoebe Bridgers played an aching, emotional set at World Cafe Live Wednesday night, sharing tracks from her 2017 debut, Stranger in the Alps. Here are some highlights and photos from the sold-out affair.
1. This gal is 23 and already seems world-weary.
Certain elements point to Bridgers youth when she’s onstage—like the heavy metal-inspired logo on her drums or the quirky name of her tour: The Farewell Tour. But her lyrics reveal a bottomless well of emotion and desire not typically seen in a 23 year old. On “Funeral” she sings of personal sadness and the realization of greater pain in the world. And the show opener, “Smoke Signals,” is like a novella of memory and longing. Lyrics like, “And you must have been looking for me/ Sending smoke signals” is an example of her timeless, soulful poetry.
2. She really connects with fans, like really.
For someone with one record to her name, Bridgers’ deep connection with the audience is astounding. Her ease of conversation, peppered with casual vulgarity and genuine earnestness, is lovely and refreshing. She was missing a capo, but, astonishingly, someone in the front row had one to spare. A man brought her flowers and someone else brought a canister of almonds. These little gifts add up to a fandom that is sure to be increasingly ravenous as her career continues to blossom.
3. But not as much as she connects to her music.
Bridgers’ interest in rock music runs real deep. She pulled out a gorgeous cover of Tom Petty’s “It’ll All Work Out,” after telling the audience that she was actually performing at World Cafe Live when she found out about his final hospitalization, which eventually led to his passing. The concluding encore note of “You Missed My Heart” is a great summation of Bridgers as a musician. Haunting and sad, the Mark Kozelek and Jimmy LaValle tune was paired with an oddly fascinating juxtaposition of large confetti-filled black balloons that were thrown to the audience before the encore. The jubilance matched with sadness was striking and complex.
4. Soccer Mommy wowed with an indie-rock opening set
Sophie Allison’s Soccer Mommy began the night with a retro-cool Billy Ray Cyrus shirt and collection of engaging songs about relationships and observations. Playing tunes from her forthcoming album, Clean, she revealed that, while being intrigued by the lives of others, she wants to keep the ones she loves at a distance. Since first seeing her live last September, I’ve noticed a growth in her stage presence (she’s become quite the chatterbox) and has developed a greater vocal and guitar dynamism between herself and her band.