The Daily Tar Heel

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Tuesday November 30th

Column: Phoebe Bridgers 'could do anything she wants to do'

Phoebe Bridgers performs her song "Motion Sickness" to open her concert at Red Hat Amphitheater in Raleigh on Sept. 21, 2021.
Buy Photos Phoebe Bridgers performs her song "Motion Sickness" to open her concert at Red Hat Amphitheater in Raleigh on Sept. 21, 2021.

The lights faded black. Christmas lights wrapped tightly around microphones and instruments provided the only illumination in the entire amphitheater. Thousands of fans in Dr. Martens and fishnets screamed with anticipation. A band of skeleton-garbed musicians walked onto stage, and a single guitar strum rang out. 

As the lights came on, Phoebe Bridgers walked to the front of the stage and began to sing “I hate you for what you did, and I miss you like a little kid" — the opening lines to her most well-known tune, “Motion Sickness.” 

I was frankly worried about the enjoyability of the concert considering the fact that Bridgers’ music is often low-tempo and lyric-driven. The concerts that I have most enjoyed in the past have been from high-energy performers such as Beyoncé and Alanis Morissette. 

However, Bridgers was able to foster an incredible environment driven by impeccable vocal performance, obvious passion for her music and casual interactions with her fans. 

Bridgers is undeniably herself. Though I do not know her personally, her public presence has not been tainted by the expectations of fame or the mental exhaustion that I am sure accompanies a national tour.

At one point, she stopped the entire show just to hear a joke that a fan on the barricade was telling. Upon hearing the joke — after asking the audience member to repeat it multiple times so that she could hear it — Bridgers simply laughed and said, “That was definitely worth it.” 

She did not share with the rest of the audience what the joke was, but this minute interaction with a fan exemplifies her undeniable humility. 

MUNA, a band relatively new to my radar, opened for Bridgers. The only song that I knew ahead of the concert was “Silk Chiffon,” which features Bridgers. However, MUNA blew me away.

They were energetic, and their songs were addictive. I added practically every song from their set to my monthly playlist. I highly recommend checking out “Stayaway” and “I Know a Place.” 

Bridgers’ setlist was basically her entire second studio album, “Punisher,” from start to finish. I adore concerts like this; it feels so authentic to the music, and it is a concert setup that is ideal for true fans. 

Today is the fourth anniversary of Bridgers’ first full-length studio album, “Stranger in the Alps,” and at one point in the concert, fans began to chant “Stranger in the Alps” in unison. They were politely demanding to hear more “non-Punisher” songs (as “Motion Sickness” was the only “Stranger in the Alps” song that had been played by that point). 

However, there was not enough time to play the entire album through, Bridgers said. The fans were then asked to choose between “Georgia” and “Scott Street.” I screamed my vote for “Scott Street.” This song defined my first semester of college when I was sent home — with most UNC first-years — while COVID-19 cases rose sharply on campus.

Bridgers then played “Scott Street,” and it is a moment I will cherish forever. It was like seeing my life come full circle — from the despair of a virtual first semester to a point where I am satisfied with where I am in life and content with all that life throws my way. 

Bridgers has a unique ability of balancing the most depressing songs you’ve ever heard with subtly energetic live performance. She locked the audience in a trance and demanded ultimate captivation.

I was happy to oblige. 


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