May 13, 2022 | LIFE | By Carlee Castillo | Illustration by Sierra Romero
Phoebe Bridgers is an artist for the perpetually sad girls. Her music is infused with magic. It remains lyrical and beautiful while discussing themes of death, decay, and age. These ghostly dichotomies can be heard live on Bridgers’ upcoming Reunion Tour, coming to Colorado on May 17 at Red Rocks Amphitheater.
After a while of being a casual listener, my first real encounter with Bridgers was through her song “Funeral,” an admittedly depressing introduction. My grandfather had just passed away and I sat on the cold tile of the bathroom with my knees tucked into my chest, my phone laying on the marble counter, with Spotify shuffling through both familiar and unknown songs aimlessly. That was until hauntingly oblong guitar notes echoed through the room.
What followed was a sort of cosmic connection. Bridgers never mentions a grandfather specifically, but her ability to capture melancholia through an acoustic melody launched my fascination.
This despondent song was followed by Bridgers’ “Kyoto.” Although the song boasts a much more upbeat tune, similarly sad lyrics are shallowly masqueraded. Strong drums and marching band-esque trumpets sing alongside airy vocals. Arguably, this is the most play-in-the-car-with-the-windows-down, try-not-make-your-friends-cry-on-a-sunny-day song of Bridgers’ collection. It gave me the encouragement I needed to raise myself from the glacial floor.
Growing up in east Los Angeles, Bridgers has always had an intrinsically deep relationship to music. Elliot Smith — a prominent indie artist of the 90s — continues to serve as one of Bridgers’ mentors, even though they never met. His influence is obvious in their comparably folky arrangements and whispery vocals.
Her career in music started at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts with the punk band Sloppy Jane. After the band was featured in multiple advertisements, Bridgers secured a record deal with indie label Dead Oceans. This is where she created and produced her first ep, “Killer.”
In 2017, Bridgers’ prolific debut album,“Stranger in the Alps” dropped. She has since worked collaboratively with other artists on spellbinding productions. In 2018, Bridgers co-created the superband BoyGenius with fellow female indie artists Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker.
Following this, Bridgers and Conor Oberst collided, forming the indie-rock album “Better Oblivion Community Center.” Most recently, Bridgers released her sophomore solo album, “Punisher,” gaining multiple Grammy nominations along the way. Her newest song, “Sidelines,” will accompany the release of Sally Rooney’s book to TV adaptation of “Conversations with Friends,” a perfectly sorrowful match.
With tour finally becoming a reality, Bridgers feels especially grateful. “A true ego death is putting out an album and not being on tour,” she said in an interview with Rolling Stone. “I didn’t realize how much I relied on people screaming at me every night. It’s just super-weird.”
Spanning for four legs and 92 dates, the reunion tour is just that –– a reunion and reminder of the community live music builds.
For a mere 27 years old, Phoebe Bridgers demonstrates an incredible amount of wisdom and ache. She is exemplary of young people’s capacity to feel. Ghostly and raw, her music manages to be both intensely personal and devastatingly relatable. Bridgers offers comfort in vulnerability and the unknown. Even as I sit here, writing this article, unsure of a proper concluding sentence, my unease slips away as lyrical ballads and screams flow through my earphones. Yeah, I guess, the end is here.