Phoebe Bridgers’ Farewell Tour is her first headlining tour, and I was excited to see that she was stopping in Montreal. She’s a Los Angeles-based musician with a unique melancholic sound. Her debut record Stranger in the Alps is an emotional album and is one of my favorites of 2017. I was hopeful that the emotion would come across in the show, and Le Belmont’s small, dark stage was the perfect setup for the show.
The support act was Loïc April, a Montreal-based band, who performed as a duo. They played with an acoustic and electric guitar, creating a nice texture. Their music overall was not particularly unique, but it was nice nonetheless.
The setup on Le Belmont’s small stage included a drum set, a keyboard, a bass, and Phoebe opened the night with “Smoke Signals,” which sound-wise wasn’t quite performed right. She and her bassist noticed too, so they requested various modifications to sound levels for vocals and keys. She has a very expressive face, and you could tell with each song, with each lyric, exactly what she was thinking when she wrote it. Throughout both this song and “Georgia,” she would give a slight smile, expressing both her happiness to be on stage and the recollection of her mindset writing the songs.
Overall, the feeling in the room was one of collective melancholy. How could it not be with songs like “Funeral,” which has the opening lyrics of “I’m singing at a funeral tomorrow, for a kid a year older than me,” and “Chelsea,” which she premised simply as “a really sad one.”
Her band left in the middle of the show, giving her time to play a few songs on her own. “Steamroller,” one of the earliest songs she recorded, was recorded solo. It seemed very appropriate to see it performed this way. She then played a cover of Tom Petty’s “It’ll All Work Out,” introducing it by saying how much she missed him, as we all do.
She did a great job breaking up her sad songs with comic relief, commenting on everything from her eyeliner to her “horrible American accent.” She was cool, funny and real in her commentary. Most importantly, the bits in between songs were not rehearsed. She spoke exactly what was on her mind about her songs and about the crowd.
One of the nice things about seeing such a new artist is that you tend to know exactly what they’ll play and you get to hear everything they’ve released. She acknowledged this when they came back out for the encore, saying, “We only have one more thing that we could possibly play for you.” She was then corrected by someone who yelled out a request of “Waiting Room” from a Lost Ark studio compilation album.
Phoebe Bridgers has a stunning voice, and her ability to convey her stories and emotions through her music is clear. I’m excited to see how she matures as an artist and as a performer. She clearly has the skill as a guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter to be one of the great singer/songwriters of this generation.
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