TVD Live Shots: Phoebe Bridgers and Charlie Hickey at The Greek Theatre, 10/21

PHOTOS: JULIA LOFSTRAND | Since the release of Phoebe Bridgers’ first album, Stranger in the Alps (2017), she’s toured with The National, partnered with Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst, started a record label, caused an internet uproar after smashing her guitar in a gender power move on SNL, and more recently had a cameo in Jackson Browne’s new video, “My Cleveland Heart,” where she played a nurse who “ate” his heart.

It’s not these iconic moments she’s been collecting that got her four Grammy Nominations for Punisher (2020), the album this tour is supporting—it’s her own brand of the strange and fealty to self-deprecation that has set her place in indie rock history to motion.

Thursday’s show was night one in a string of three sold-out shows at California’s pine-laden outdoor venue The Greek Theatre. Arriving at the tail-end of the tour, this show was a homecoming for Bridgers and opener Charlie Hickey, both natives of LA suburb South Pasadena. Now signed to Bridgers’ Saddest Factory Records, Hickey met Bridgers back when he was just thirteen when he covered one of her songs.

The surrealness of the moment at this hometown show was not lost on him as he voiced to the crowd, “This is fucked up. Some of you need to leave. There’s too many people here.” After gaining his composure he continued with his pristine voice and acoustic guitar with Bridgers joining him on stage for a couple of songs.

Sipping my wine during intermission and waiting for Phoebe Bridgers to take the stage, I heard Sophie B. Hawkins’ “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover,” trailing from the speakers and was reminded how much I loved that ’90s gem. Copious amounts of teenagers in skeleton shirts and Doc Martens ushered into their seats exhibiting a level of artist identification not seen since the early ’80s for Madonna or ICP fans. I was not expecting such young fans based on the emotional maturity of her voice and heady lyrics, but with a focus on disorientating human relationships, I can see the appeal of the sad girl vibe.

An outpouring of applause and screams filled the air as Bridgers approached the mic donned in her signature jewel encrusted skeletal look and strapped her black-sparkle Danelectro 56 over her shoulder and dove right into “Motion Sickness.”

I dug the starry night themed screen as a 3D card unfolded and changed scenes with each new song behind the 6-piece skeleton suit dressed band. “My mom is here tonight,” she said, reminiscing with the crowd how in her youth her mom would drop her off at The Greek and other LA venues like the Whisky a Go Go and pretend not to wait for her outside.

“This one’s about alcoholism,” she said in a deadpan stare at the start of “Kyoto.” The crowd, swaying from side to side, spilled their fractured emotions out with each verse. “Me and My Dog,” a song from boygenius, a collaborative group she formed with Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker made a guest appearance. In true ironic Phoebe fashion, she end the night not with one of her own songs, but with “That Funny Feeling” by comedic musician and actor Bo Burnham.

CHARLIE HICKEY

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