Phoebe Bridgers performed to a thoroughly sold-out Turf Club this past Friday. With only one full-length album to her name – last fall’s critically loved Stranger in the Alps – she has an ever-growing fanbase that undoubtedly could have filled a larger venue. Bridgers has played the Twin Cities before, most recently opening for Conor Oberst last September at St. Paul’s Palace Theatre, but her Turf gig was a proper headlining debut. The rising-star singer/songwriter from L.A. delivered an intimate and enthralling set that had the audience hooked from the first note.
Lomelda (aka lo-fi Texas singer/songwriter Hannah Read) was the opening act. Read walked on stage in a hoodie pulled up tight around her face, a heavy jacket buttoned up, and immediately dove into the first track. Between songs she jokingly remarked at the obvious: It’s really cold here. Later in the set she also commented on how nice and polite the audience was, something she said she does not always experience in bar settings. So, with those two observations, she really summed up Minnesota.
By the time Bridgers and her band took the stage, the house was packed and eagerly awaiting her set. Backed by a suit-clad band, Bridgers sang her lyrically rich lamentations with almost note-for-note precision — her honey-laced vocals flawlessly ranging from quiet hums to arching crescendos throughout the night. Bridgers is a classically trained vocalist; she studied singing during her time at an L.A. arts high school, and her emotionally fueled lyrics especially come to life because of her mastery of her own voice. Her performance of “Georgia” seemed to melt everyone in the crowd; older track “Killer” felt hushed and intimate; and irresistible kiss-off single “Motion Sickness” had the entire crowd singing along.
Between songs, Bridgers enjoyed light banter with the crowd, at one point asking if we were fans of Prince and the Replacements, both met with a surprisingly underwhelming response (maybe we’re all finally sick of being asked those questions?). Overall, this concert seemed to deliver what every Bridgers fan could want: a breathtaking performance of heart-wrenching songs.
Bridgers capped her two-song encore with a giddy audience singalong of Sheryl Crow’s “If it Makes You Happy,” though the darkly humorous indie-folk star made sure to apologize for its author’s Kid Rock infamous collaborations. Next time we see Bridgers in the Twin Cities, we’ll be happy to see her in an larger venue.