Words and Photos by Samantha Skapin
It was chilly fall night in Cleveland, the perfect setting for the Phoebe Bridgers Reunion tour to roll through and finish off September on a sweet, melancholy note.
What I love most about shows being back after almost a two-year hiatus is seeing bands finally having the chance to interact with their crowd again. Opening electro-pop band MUNA was an absolute blast to watch and it was truly special to see how much they loved their fans. The band came out on-stage wearing pride flags as capes and waving to the large crowd that was cheering back to them. MUNA never wavered from keeping the crowd going, with guitarist Naomi McPherson running to both sides of the stage throughout their set, dancing and yelling lyrics of their songs back at the crowd.
The band sounded cohesive and sharp, letting each member of the band have their moments to shine throughout songs, including incredible vocal parts from Katie Gavin in “Crying on the Bathroom Floor” and “Pink Light” off their 2019 album Saves The World. Any person watching the show could tell how much all members of MUNA loved playing shows with one another, as they often would smile and dance with each other throughout each song.
Towards the end of the set, they played their newest (and crazy catchy) single “Silk Chiffon”, with Phoebe Bridgers joining them to sing her verse. MUNA finished off their set with the same energy they brought at the beginning with their pop-anthem “I Know A Place” off their 2017 album About You. MUNA was the perfect opener for this tour and really kept such a positive and persistent energy throughout their set. I’m glad I got to witness their last show on this leg of the tour and can’t wait to see them when they come to town again.
Phoebe Bridgers took the stage with her band soon after, walking out wearing a suit and top detailed with pearls and a tie, along with a huge grin as “I Got A Feeling” by the Black-Eyed Peas played in the background, as if she already had a feeling tonight was going to be special. If you’ve been living under a rock, Phoebe has made monumental waves with her sophomore album Punisher. Since its release last June, Phoebe has gone from receiving four Grammy nominations, to playing Saturday Night Live, to headlining major festivals in the US. Punisher has truly been given the recognition it deserves, and I was excited to finally be able to see songs from this album come to life.
She began the set with hit single “Motion Sickness” off of Stranger In The Alps and the crowd went into a frenzy, screaming lyrics back as Phoebe sang the opening line, “I hate you for what you did.” Her vocals sounded top notch, being sure to include every yell, belt, or high note she carefully included in the song and hitting them with ease. She worked her way into songs from Punisher, playing her hit single “Kyoto” and “Halloween”. Her set design changed along with the songs, including beautifully illustrated “story book” scenes from Chris Ridell projected on the screen behind Phoebe and her band. The band sounded tack-sharp and crystal clear, including wonderful trumpet additions from JJ Kirkpatrick, and beautifully thought-out harmonies from drummer Marshall Vore and Harrison Whitford.
Her set included many songs from Punisher, as well as songs from her first album Stranger In The Alps, but also carefully included songs she would play solo such as “Me And My Dog” from her collaboration project BoyGenius. Watching her play alone acoustic while boats passed by in the lake behind her set the perfect tone for the chilly night.
Just from a quick glance around, you could tell how much these songs meant to the crowd. You could see tears, many phones catching a quick recording of their favorite verse, and even a bra being flung onto stage for Phoebe to collect at the end of the show. She ended with “The End Is Near,” screaming with all her might into the mic while chaotic trumpets and guitars played in the background. After a brief moment, she came out for an encore song of “That Funny Feeling,” a song from Bo Burnhams’ Netflix special Inside. Bridgers, describing the song as one “that cheers her up at the end of the night” resonated with the rest of the crowd, as they sang the words back to her before the lights turned on to signal the end of the show.
Overall, the Phoebe Bridgers reunion tour was everything a fan could ask for and more. With electric trio MUNA opening the show, to soft moments the crowd got to share with Phoebe herself, it truly had something for everyone.
Be sure to check out Phoebe on her remaining dates of her tour-
Oct 16 – Berkeley, CA – Greek Theatre
Oct 21 – Los Angeles, CA – Greek Theatre
Oct 22 – Los Angeles, CA – Greek Theatre
Oct 24 – Atlanta, GA – Shaky Knees