Strangers in the Greek: Phoebe Bridgers gives emotive hometown performance


Phoebe Bridgers moved the crowd with her tear-jerking peformance. Photo credit: Steven Ward

Linda Manzo and Ailanie Martinez

Shocking The Greek Theatre with the opening number of  “I Got A Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas, Phoebe Bridgers held Los Angeles like water in her hands. Following her four Grammy nominations, Bridgers sold out the venue within minutes, forcing an additional sold out show, occurring Oct. 21 and Oct. 22 of 2021. Her consistency of melancholy music led many to wonder how attending her concert would pan out; correcting our predictions, the concert was flooded with signature skeleton outfits worn by fans, eyes glistening with tears.

Bridgers’ rise to fame occurred over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused an initial disconnect between herself and her fanbase. Bridgers participated in the online concert phenomenon, where her stage presence was shockingly similar to her live performances. With audiences through a screen, Bridgers was direct; by adding a few sentences in between songs, Bridgers allowed her fans to get the most music out of their allotted time. Seeing Bridgers in person was a surreal experience after following her online presence for nearly a year prior. 

The concerts began with the opening acts: Charlie Hickey on Oct. 21 and Matthew Healy of The 1975 on Oct. 22. On the first show, Hickey jumpstarted the crowd’s excitement and raised the energy level, particularly when Bridgers made a quick entrance to perform a song alongside him. 

Opening for the second showing, Healy stunned the crowd with his surprise appearance. Fans panicked and ran for their seats when they heard the audience’s cheers, and Healy quickly caught the adoration of the attendees. Giving into pleas from fans, he performed “Sex” by the 1975 before Bridgers joined him on the stage for their song, “Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America”, leaving fans reeling and screaming louder than ever.

Performing her sophomore album, “Punisher”, and a few songs from “Stranger in the Alps”, Bridgers kept the crowd swayed under the persistently devastating emotions her songs evoke. Bridgers equipped visual art throughout her performances, maintaining the emotional and dreamy atmosphere that had settled upon the audience the minute she walked onto the stage. During each song, a background screen displayed a large book that had animations relating to the song’s theme and origin, with designs ranging from green gardens to a haunted house slowly burning down.

Bridgers lilted “Motion Sickness” with audience members hollering the famous lyrics that put her on the map. She then surfaced the devastation of unrequited love within “Moon Song”, which the crowd reciprocated with swaying, crying and of course, singing. Concertgoers jumped and sang when the more upbeat “Kyoto” played, while “Savior Complex” was met with loud sobbing and sorrowful stares into oblivion. When the time came, the Greek Theatre was filled with horror-movie-like screams of existential dread during the concluding song, “I Know The End”. When the show ended, fans cried for more, yelling, “Encore! Encore!” Bridgers stepped back out for an emotional rendition of “That Funny Feeling” by Bo Burnham.

Though she kept her words scarce, Bridgers expressed the sentimentality that performing in her hometown had brought her. She reminisced about attending concerts at the Greek Theatre, and she poked fun at her fans, joking, “You guys are boring,” when no one was revealed to be hiding in the trees for free performances. Her deadpan humor had everyone in stitches, and the crowd was particularly amused when she quipped, “This song is about having depression in Los Angeles, as the majority of my songs are.”

Throughout the past year, Bridgers has accomplished a breakthrough that most artists have only dreamt of. With her first Grammy attendance, she received support from the legendary Elton John, and she is the first woman solo artist to collaborate on music owned by the songwriting icon, Taylor Swift. 

The future is bright for Bridgers. Any doubt of her impact was disproven as fans were left sobbing and dazed after her moving performances. Her music will continue to resonate with many and their struggles, which is what Bridgers does best. As we were surrounded by people deeply impacted by the emotions conveyed through Bridgers’ music, it became prominent that the deeply-rooted connection between artist and fan had overcome the lack of human interaction experienced over the past year. As her musical career progresses, the influence Bridgers carries will continue to grow exponentially, alongside her success.

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