“I had a fever until I met you / Now you make me cool/ Sometimes I still do something embarrassing”
What do you do when you’re asked to write about a concert by three of your favorite singer-songwriters who formed a supergroup this summer? If you find out, let me know. In the meantime, I’ll try my best to be somewhat coherent and professional. But, wow, what a dream this night was.
In late August 2018, singer-songwriters Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus (resident sad girls) formed boygenius, the source of your new favorite melancholic songs with the dreamiest harmonies that make you want to drive aimlessly around your hometown in the middle of the night. My friend and I had been eagerly awaiting the supergroup’s visit to Seattle’s Moore Theatre in late November, since we bought our tickets as soon as they went on sale this summer. Each member played a set of their solo music and concluded the show by playing boygenius’ debut EP in its entirety, along with a surprise cover of the Dixie Chicks’ “Cowboy Take Me Away” (seriously, you need to hear it). It four consecutive hours of live music, so buckle up. I’m going IN.
Lucy Dacus was up first, blessing us all with her honest, coming-of-age music. I had been dying to see Dacus live since I first heard “Night Shift,” the first track off her sophomore album Historian, while waiting for my bus one early spring morning on my way to work. Perhaps the most moving moment of her set was when she played “Pillar of Truth.” She told the crowd before the song that her dad was in the audience that night, and they were spending the weekend together to celebrate her grandmother, the song’s muse. It was one of the most moving performances I’ve seen in a while, revealing the power of vulnerability when music is its vessel.
Next up was Phoebe Bridgers. If you know me, you know how much I love this woman and the music she makes. I had never heard of her until I saw her live in Seattle last year and was absolutely floored by her music. This was my third time seeing Phoebe live, and she never disappoints. She played all of the classic sad girl anthems from her debut album, Stranger in the Alps, including a special rendition of “Killer” with special guest Noah Gundersen, a Washington-native singer-songwriter (and one of my favorite musicians of all time). Another notable moment from her set was her cover of Gillian Welch’s “Everything Is Free” alongside drummer, Marshall Vore, in which they both doubled over in laughter after making eye contact midway through the song. It was a great source of comedic relief, given that most of the night was filled with the most heartbreaking songs you will ever hear.
Julien Baker then took the stage with her electric guitar, loop pedal, piano, and nothing else. With only her violinist and herself to accompany her, she completely captivated the audience from the moment she stepped on stage up until the very last note she sang. I have been a fan of Julien Baker since high school, and what impresses me the most about her is how articulate she is in painting a picture of human brokenness, grace, and redemption. From love to loss, addiction, depression, and spirituality, Julien honestly proclaims her inner-most thoughts and boldly carves a space for herself in a context that was not created for her.
Finally, it was time for boygenius. The three walked on stage with their matching, custom-made blazers, dressed in black from head to toe. They opened with “Souvenir,” one of my favorite songs from the EP. I was just as moved by their performance as I was the first time I heard this song. That familiar feeling of being punched in the gut returned as Lucy lamented,
“Pulling thorns out from my palm / Work a midnight surgery / When you cut a hole into my skull / Do you hate what you see like I do?”
They continued playing through their EP with effortless excellence and honesty, including my favorite track – “Me & My Dog.” If you want to know how I feel about that song, read this article written by KSPU staff member and dear friend Analyn Grasz. “Salt in the Wound” was perhaps the greatest live performance I have seen in a while – what a demonstration of lyrical honesty, raw talent, and Baker’s electric guitar skills, resulting in Bridgers and Dacus bowing down to Baker during her solo at the end of the song.
The group ended the set with “Ketchum, ID,” a song about being on the road and losing grip on what it really means to be home. However, I think the sentiment resonates with anyone who has moved away from home for any significant amount of time – the desire to start fresh in a new place juxtaposed with loneliness and longing for the innocence of what used to be. I know this resonated with the Seattle crowd as we all sang along while the three women tucked us in for the night with their ethereal three-part harmonies.
If you value lyrical honesty and vulnerability as much as I do, you need to listen to boygenius. And if you’re lucky enough to see them live, you won’t regret it. You will be taken aback by their ability to tug at your heart strings, punch you in the gut, yet also remind you that you’re not alone in whatever you’re feeling