On Tuesday morning, Sophia Missigman said Phoebe Bridgers’ music felt like free therapy.
“She doesn’t hold back on her words. She’s not trying to sugarcoat anything. She just tells it like it is, even if it’s not right or comfortable to talk about it, she’ll just put it in a song,” she told Creative Loafing Tampa Bay.
Along with four friends, the 21-year-old from Alachua County arrived at 5:30 a.m. to be the first to perform at Bridgers’ sold-out show in Ybor City, the singer-songwriter’s first local gig. from Los Angeles and her first gig in the area since 2017 when she played a 1:45 p.m. set in front of around 100 people at the Gasparilla Music Festival.
“I mean, it’s not free,” she added, pointing to a slew of blankets, set up outside the parking lot doors of the Cuban Club. “But it’s cheaper.”
Missigman had no idea how much therapy she and the Tampa crowd might have needed on Tuesday night.
Eight hours after Missigman and his friends put down their blankets, a gunman nearly 1,300 miles away in Uvalde, Texas, entered an elementary school and killed at least 19 children and two adults. Seven hours later, the president gave a speech marked by familiar, tired and exhausting calls for gun control. Minutes after Biden’s remarks ended, Bridgers took the stage in Tampa and performed a concert where more than 4,000 people soaked themselves in a 16-song set that played like a balm, however temporary, for another American community accustomed to pain.
At Bridgers concerts, every track is a song. While the first “Motion Sickness” set is about another freak, listening to a chorus of teens, tweens, and 30-somethings exclaim, “I hardly feel anything, I hardly feel anything at all” on Tuesday night was particularly strange.
Yet, thanks in part to a crowd mic high up in the mix alongside Bridgers’ haunting, flawless vocals on “Garden Song,” it was impossible to feel alone.
“Impeccable vibes, thank you for hanging out and being goth in the heat” Bridgers, who is on the road to support his 2020 Grammy-nominated album Punisherdeadpan to the crowd before sending them pogoing into “Kyoto”.
The temperature – a high of 91 degrees at noon, around 81 degrees by the time Bridgers took the stage – definitely made a name for itself in Tampa, with no less than half a dozen fans in the crowd throughout the evening. Fly-half Charlie Hickey repeatedly stopped his 40-minute slot, sometimes at length, to ensure people in the audience received medical attention or water. Shortly after starting in “Punisher”, the fourth song of his set, Bridgers also cut the music to ensure a fan up front was taken care of.
When people spend more than half the day in the summer sun, waiting to enter a general admission show before positioning themselves near the stage, their bodies are bound to give in. The crew couldn’t throw in enough free water. Bridgers – who that afternoon also bought Italian gelato for everyone in line – didn’t hesitate to stop “Savior Complex” or “Scott Street” (where she let the fans sing the outros). She took another break after “ICU” so fans could get some help. The message was clear: nothing, not even the show, was more important than taking care of the people in the crowd.
And when a Pride flag was passed onstage ahead of a searing run through “Halloween” that featured guitarist Harrison Whitford’s sexy vocals, Bridgers – who has never shied away from his activism – told the crowd that she had her back in another way.
“Fuck DeSantis,” she said after bringing the flag up on stage and draping it over the keyboard. She then asked the crowd to say “gay” on the count of three, and added another “Fuck that motherfucker” for good measure.
Bridgers made no mention of Tuesday’s shooting in Texas in his onstage banter, but was not at all shy about addressing the basic issues of life and human rights.
Ahead of a Danelecto version of “Chinese Satellite” – a song about getting the hell away wherever you are – she explained that the song details the times she walked through a bunch of filthy people with signs. The 27-year-old also shared that she had an abortion in October, then mentioned reproductive rights funds like Mariposa, Lilith and Planned Parenthood, and encouraged the crowd to support them with money (we can’t say it enough in this state where elected officials can’t seem to keep their laws out of vaginas).
She explained that “ICU” is about disagreeing with family members and the family of people you love about politics, “especially when it’s not even about politics anymore, like when it comes to white supremacy and stuff.”
All of Tucker Carlson’s in-laws from the Cuban Club in Clearwater Beach probably felt it when the whole crowd sang the lyrics, “I hate your mom, I hate it when she opens her mouth.” It’s amazing to me how much you can say when you don’t know what you’re talking about.
And for all the musicianship emanating from the ensemble — JJ Kirkpatrick was particularly compelling on “Savior Complex,” and Bridgers’ Gruska-level appreciation of pedalboard vocal manipulation is A-plus — it was the lyrics that landed. with the most force on Tuesday evening.
It’s hard to forget the first time you heard Stranger in the Alps Slow-burning “Funeral,” but listening to Bridgers deliver the line, “I woke up in my crib. Wishing to be someone else, feeling sorry for myself, when I remembered that someone’s child is dead,” you got shivers down your spine on Tuesday.
Averi Kremposky, a reporter from Gainesville who was part of the group that arrived before sunrise to camp for that first spot, told CL that a performer’s vulnerability on stage is what draws her to the live experience. . Mia Minkin, who waited 14 hours with Kremposky and Missigman just to get on the show, spoke about the courage and strength it took Bridgers to expose once-heralded songwriter Ryan Adams as an abuser, especially at a time when his career was just beginning from the ground.
“It’s a lot for [“Motion Sickness”] a song about such a personal experience to explode,” Minkin said. “Now it’s something she’s being asked to speak about when she shouldn’t have to be the one doing it. But taking on that responsibility and starting the process to make other people feel empowered enough ease to show up, I think that’s quite admirable.
In his 2019 comments on Adams, the songwriter dismantled the myth of an untouchable god of American songwriting and exposed him for the abuser he is. Admirable, yes, but so much more than that too.
Bridgers led by example on Tuesday night; she brought her fans back to live music and asked everyone to breathe when their neighbors were falling in the heat. She spoke of fans’ fears and frustration and said it was promising to see the youth movement so angry and ready to act.
More than an idol on a Tuesday, Bridgers was simply a friend.
We live in a country where a gun has more rights than a womb. Even after this last week of mass murder, the elected officials will be holding us hostage to please the crazies and lobbyists who love overpowered guns and open carriers more than knowing that kids can be safe from guns at school. In Florida, you can’t talk to kids about being gay. Tampeños have to watch a mayor — whose campaign is funded mostly by development interests — say rent controls aren’t being seen as a tool to keep people from being evicted from their homes.
In many ways, being alive in this country means living in an endless cycle of pain, numbness, and despair.
Sometimes all you need is a friend to get you to tomorrow.
“I know it’s not safe to be in the world right now – in fact, I should say ‘America’ – it’s so disgusting,” she said before playing a solo acoustic version of his supergroup’s “Me & My Dog”. Boygenius. “But fuck them. This one is for my boys.
See a setlist and more photos below. Listen to a playlist of the show on Tidal.
The end is near
me and my dog