Sad girl indie-rock lovers, assemble! Boygenius, the all-female supergroup made up of songwriters Lucy Dacus, Phoebe Bridgers, and Julien Baker, has graced North America with one of the most anticipated tours of the year. How anticipated, you ask? Simply put, I had never seen as many attendees waiting at the door pre-show as there were at Boston’s Orpheum Theatre. Not only that, I had never seen as many people crowding a merch table to buy a vinyl release than there were buying the new boygenius EP at this show. Most importantly, I had never seen as high a percentage of fans geeking out in one collective space than I can recall in recent memory. These three girls clearly have a cult fan base as individuals, but together they have the indie community foaming at the mouth.
Lucy Dacus got the concert off to an early 7pm start with her trademark pluckiness and a 4-piece band at her back. Although the Richmond, Virginia product was impressive, her performance immediately revealed the only major flaw with the concert as a whole: Dacus, Bridgers, and Baker’s sets were completely separate. If the three of them relinquished their singularity and supported each other’s songs in an integrated, fluid set, there is no doubt more jaws would have hit the floor. Either way, Dacus was clearly the grittiest of the three. While Bridgers and Baker often seem to channel a beautiful sadness, Dacus seems to channel soft anger with a dash of newfound confidence through her selectively brash tone and instrumental tenaciousness. Her songs started just as soft as her studio tracks, but ended much louder, giving tracks like “Your’s and Mine” and “Night Shift” an intrepid, victorious feeling as if she’d won a battle of personal expression against an unknown enemy.
Next up was Phoebe Bridgers, a well-traveled Californian whose comfortability onstage masked the fact that she was a long way from home. She connected brilliantly with the local Boston crowd a few songs into her set, sharing that “Our guitarist Harry is actually from Boston. We were visiting his family friend and this guy literally said ‘I’ll take care a’yas’…It was chilling.” On top of her connectivity, Bridgers was unquestionably the most economic performer. Her songs ranged from complicated and specific topics like “taking an edible and sexting someone you shouldn’t have” to simple and vague topics like songs about “someone who was mean to me.” Her 6-piece band included an intricate violinist and a twangy slide guitar player that spread her instrumental reach much farther than Dacus or Baker. Percussion normally missing from Bridgers’ studio tracks also added an extra level of engagement that made songs like “Georgia” and “Demi Moore” louder and more captivating. But like the other acts, Bridgers employed introspective doubt as her crux. This was most notable in her closing song “Scott Street” where she sat cross-legged and sang drearily while staring into her lap. Depressing as that may sound, Bridgers maintained a constant sense of delicacy and grace – something that most pessimistic indie rockers fail to grasp as especially contributory to public appeal.
Last but not least, Julien Baker returned to Boston for the 3rd time in 12 months for the final individual set of the night. With her 2018 album Turn Out The Lights under her belt, this set was much softer and more piano-heavy than her previous tours surrounding her 2015 album Sprained Ankle. Unlike Dacus and Bridgers, Baker was the only artist playing completely alone. Her petite stature, reserved body language, and unaccompanied setup may appear unassuming, but her voice is completely disproportionate to her size. To put it in perspective, Baker had to step back a full 6 feet from the microphone on multiple occasions to avoid blowing her amplifiers with her thunderous vocal capacity. That capacity knew no limits, as her set lasted twice as long as Dacus’ and Bridgers’. From the audience’s perspective, that set length promoted the bold statement that either Boston or this tour’s fan base as a whole was most fond of Baker’s music.
Finally seeing all three girls walk out to the stage as the fabled “boygenius” supergroup to play their formative, self-titled EP was elating. Physically hearing them harmonize on songs like “Souvenir”, “Me & My Dog”, and “Ketchum, ID” was downright chilling. The melody between Dacus, Bridgers, and Baker was pristine, whole, and best of all, nontraditional. While they individually represent emotional transparency, they collectively represented a triumphant strength unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The only flaw with their set was its duration. It was to be expected that a concert focused around an individual EP would leave a lot to be desired. In reality, they only had 20 minutes of studio content to perform. Regardless, that 20 minutes was beyond divine – it was like something from a fairy-tale. Front to back, this was hands down one of the most impressive performances I’ve seen this year.
Favorite Live Tracks: Salt In The Wound (by boygenius), Me & My Dog (by boygenius), Night Shift (by Lucy Dacus), Georgia (by Phoebe Bridgers), Ketchum, ID (by boygenius), Something (by Julien Baker)
Below is a playlist featuring the full setlist played between Lucy Dacus, Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker, and the three of them together as boygenius.