Phoebe Bridgers stuns audience with heart-wrenching performance

On Saturday, Oct. 16, the musician delivered an emotional experience at the Berkeley Greek Theater.


Photo by Sarina Grossi

Bridger’s set opened with the image of a storybook tilted after her 2020 release “Punisher.”

Sarina Grossi, Editor-in-Chief

The house lights go dark, and the audience can see a band wearing matching glow-in-the-dark skeleton suits walk on stage, fronted by a woman with white hair wearing a skeleton bodice. This is what kicked off the Saturday, Oct. 16 Phoebe Bridgers Berkeley concert. 

An up and coming musician, Bridgers released her second album “Punisher” in June of 2020 to much acclaim, earning Grammy nominations for Best New Artist and Best Alternative Music Album. She announced her “Reunion Tour” Jul. 12 of this year, with $1 of every ticket being donated to RAINN, an anti-sexual violence organization.

The venue, the famous Greek Theatre at the edge of the UC Berkeley campus, was absolutely packed. Audience members were standing not only in the pit area or the upper level but also in the aisles just to see Bridgers perform. She later remarked during the show that it was the largest concert she ever performed at.

The opening act was Julien Baker, a friend and frequent collaborator of Bridgers, working with her and Lucy Dacus in the band Boygenius. The appearance was a surprise, as the previous opener could not make the show. Baker’s set was minimal, performing with no backing band and only an acoustic guitar, but her vulnerable performance was refreshing and felt emotionally raw. The highlight of her opening act was when Bridgers joined her onstage to perform a cover of “One Man Guy” by Rufus Wainwright. Baker also later came on stage again to perform on Bridger’s song “Graceland Too,” in which she sang backup vocals in the studio recording.

The headlining act was gorgeous. Bridger’s performance was accentuated by technical aspects, especially the beautiful stage lighting and projections of images to reflect each song she performed. The illustrations reflected a storybook, making each song appear to be connected, with Bridgers telling the audience the narrative of her life.

She opened her act with arguably her most popular song “Motion Sickness,” and immediately the crowd was energetic, singing along to every single lyric throughout most of the show. Bridgers and her backing band matched the crowd’s energy throughout the performance, giving an altogether tight and satisfying show. 

A particular standout in the act was “Moon Song” off her newest album, a heart-wrenching song about unrequited love. Bridger’s vocal delivery was stunning and would give anyone goosebumps, highlighting the emotional depth of her lyrics. It was difficult to hear her voice at times due to its quiet nature and the volume of the crowd, but when her voice was audible, it sounded identical to the studio recording.

Another astounding song was “I Know the End,” which showcased the musical talents of the backing band. Each band member seemed to get a spotlight during the song, culminating in the outro replicating the chaos of an apocalypse. The chaos, however, was truly invigorating and cathartic, with the entire audience screaming along with Bridgers.

Bridgers closed the show with a cover of Bo Burnham’s “That Funny Feeling,” an introspective and nihilistically hopeful song about today’s world. She brought a new sense of optimism to the song, with the outro adding dynamic instrumentation, unlike the original version. It closed the show perfectly, especially after Bridger’s generally melancholic yet moving songs. The concert overall was truly remarkable, from beginning to end.