Phoebe Bridgers | photo by Natalie Piserchio | nataliepiserchio.com
XPN Fest Recap: Phoebe Bridgers fills the River Stage with her “sad love songs”
“Ah, some positive heckling,” was Phoebe Bridgers‘ very on-brand reply to someone’s awed remark of “You can SING!” during a quiet moment in her River Stage set this afternoon. But the heckler wasn’t wrong — Phoebe Bridgers can certainly sing, and her voice carries each of her songs from the softest of whispers to the most powerful of belts.
Bridgers released her debut album, Stranger in the Alps, just last fall, but each of her several local appearances in recent months have more than proved the songwriter worthy of her widespread acclaim. Actually, as Bridgers pointed out, this technically wasn’t her first #XPNFest — she appeared on stage during Conor Oberst’s set at last year’s festival, and today she told the full story of the harrowing helicopter ride that brought the two songwriters here. “I’ve never been so stressed out in my whole life,” Bridgers said. “But yeah, that’s my XPN story, here’s another sad love song for you.”
Bridgers filled her nine-song set with what were indeed sad love songs, most off the recent album. Switching between electric and acoustic, she put both guitars down for the melancholy “Killer,” and included both a new song (“Steamroller”) and a Gillian Welch cover (“Everything is Free,” which she described as her favorite song about music streaming) mid-set. She then introduced her hit single “Motion Sickness” as her “only angry song,” and closed out the set with the soft and introspective “Scott Street.”
Everything is Free (Gillian Welch cover)