Los Angeles based singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers has been riding a much-deserved wave of praise since releasing her debut studio album Stranger in the Alps last Fall. The album is a stunning collection of melancholy indie folk songs with pop-leaning flourishes, propelled by Bridgers’ mesmerizing vocals. Having toured through the end of the year, Bridgers has continued the momentum into 2018 with a string of North American headlining dates, including a sold-out Saturday night stop at Kings in Raleigh NC.
Despite Kings being absolutely packed to capacity by the sold-out crowd, a respectful hush descended on the room as the lights dimmed and Phoebe Bridgers and her band took the stage. Bathed in muted lighting, primarily from a string of lights wrapped around her microphone stand, Phoebe started off with a stirring rendition of “Smoke Signals” followed by the stark and heart wrenching “Funeral.” While some chatty crowds have plagued a few other dates on the tour, the Saturday night crowd at Kings could sense that this was a special evening and they remained quiet and attentive as Bridgers delivered each new song, saving their adoration and loud cheering for each conclusion. While the songs from Stranger In The Alps are often austere and heavy-hearted, backed by a full band on the stage at Kings, they were fuller and a bit more up-tempo accentuating their purifying and redemptive qualities. The evening was anything but a wallow in depression. Phoebe was charismatic and engaging, often displaying self-deprecating humor. She continually thanked the crowd, with a big smile on her face, for choosing to spend a Saturday night with her and her sad songs.
As the evening progressed, Phoebe and the band managed to work through every song on Stranger In The Alps, and even managed to throw in a cover. After playing solo renditions of “Ask Me To,” and a song she announced as her favorite Tom Petty song, Phoebe brought the band back on stage to close out with “Motion Sickness” and “Scott Street.” During the final songs, large black balloons were launched into the crowd where they were batted around with vigor until one or two popped, showering the crowd with silver confetti. Bridgers returned for a single encore. She ended the show as she ends her album, with “You Missed My Heart,” leaving the audience emotionally drained and surprisingly revitalized.
Opening the evening was Soccer Mommy, the performance moniker of 20-year old Nashville-based Sophie Allison. Soccer Mommy played a short but well-received set of shoegaze tinted indie-pop that included songs from Allison’s soon to be released new album, Clean, due out March 2nd on Fat Possum Records.