Briston Maroney Proves His Talent With Sold-Out First Avenue Show


Photos by Maddi Waldron; Words by Langen Goldstien

My kitchen was covered in multi-colored buttercream when I left for my shows on Saturday night. I’m sure you’ll get sick of me writing about this giant life change, but it’s just that, a giant life change. This is a weekend when my boyfriend’s two kids are with us. Don’t get me wrong, they are both great kids full of life and personality, but it’s been a test of my patience, and having to leave the house knowing what was happening in my kitchen was, well, trying. I couldn’t linger on it long. I had a long night ahead full of what I expected to be an amazing show.

Kicking off the sold-out all-ages show at the First Avenue mainroom on Saturday night was the gorgeous and overly talented Phoebe Go. Phoebe Lou (the mastermind behind Phoebe Go) has a voice that comes off as a bit shy and timid but with this sense of heartbreak behind it. That doesn’t mean her songs are slow and sad (although some of them were), but more that the emotion that came with each of her songs on Saturday night was stunningly gorgeous and full of heart. With an indie pop influence that paired perfectly with her singer-songwriter style, I felt completely stuck in the palm of her hand throughout her thirty-five-minute song.

It has to be intimidating to be just one person on stage commanding a sold-out audience, but Phoebe somehow did it with ease. She didn’t rely on gimmicks or anything like that, purely on her voice, and I watched, captivated, as she pulled it off. Even between songs, I feel like the audience was hanging on her every word. Between tracks, she mostly talked about how kind and polite the crowd was, and that wasn’t a stretch to say. Instead of a roar of chatter fighting for the atmosphere of the room, the young crowd was mostly attentive and very supportive of Phoebe’s music. This was a bit surprising to me as I really wouldn’t consider Phoebe’s music to be “Saturday night music.” Yet, I really think it said a lot about her talent. Don’t get me wrong, as we got closer to the headlining set of the night, that haze of chatter started to rise out of excitement, but I truly do think that Phoebe Go deserved all of the respect she was shown on Saturday night. There’s a very bright future for this young performer, and I am beyond glad to have had the experience of catching her on Saturday.

Phoebe Go may have been beautiful and amazing, but she was not the reason for the sold-out show. The reason was headliner Briston Maroney. Briston Maroney is a singer-songwriter from Tennessee with a voice that stands out in the otherwise oversaturated indie-pop genre that I would personally place him in. Backed by an absolutely stellar band on Saturday night, Briston, like Phoebe, had no problem drawing the crowd into his world and keeping them there until the very end.

The first thing I noticed about Briston Maroney was the stage set-up. This was there the whole time and was the backdrop to Phoebe Go’s set but I figure now is the more appropriate time to mention it. There was iridescent fabric hanging from every corner around the stage along with very creative sea creatures scattered around. Honestly, it looks a bit cluttered and almost ate Phoebe Go up in the mess of it all but I loved it. It added a sense of fun and whimsy to the set that seemed to fit Briston Maroney’s performance perfectly.

Although he and his band were all about the music and definitely gave a flawless performance on Saturday night, there was something playful about it. From the way he bantered back and forth with the audience and the rest of the band to the movements on stage, there was just something so light-hearted about the performance. I loved this because I was honestly expecting more of a buttoned-up set due to Briston Maroney feeling like he had something to prove, but the truth is, he and his band have nothing to prove. The proof is in the music and the entire audience was singing along to every word as if their lives depended on it. If you had walked into the show blind, you would have surely thought you were seeing the next big thing in music and, truthfully, I don’t think that would be a stretch to say.

From songs that I recognized from the daily indie-pop playlists that I let play during the workday to unfamiliar tracks that instantly made me want to go home and actually actively listen to his two full-length records and a smattering of EPs and singles, I was hooked on more than just Briston’s performance- I was hooked on his music. Another thing that absolutely had me sold on this young performer was the way his set was full of originals. I didn’t catch a single cover or any moment where I felt like he was trying to kill time. He and his band played nearly twenty songs, each with a different mood and vine. I know this sounds like it should be common sense but the amount of young musicians I’ve seen try to pull off a headlining set like this and rely on covers and smoke and mirrors is insane. It was super refreshing to see someone like this do this headlining set and do it right.

Disclaimer: We were not approved to shoot Briston Maroney so there are no photos to share from his set