Boygenius Precedes Coachella with Exciting Warmup: Concert Review

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When Variation Asked the Boygenius members about their upcoming show’s set list in an interview earlier this month, they made it clear—not just material, just band stuff, because that’s enough to fill festival-length sets anyway. On top of that, the idea that complying with Boygenius elections helps keep things democratic is perhaps an unspoken idea; this will get a little harder if all of a sudden “Kyoto” wins the loudest roar of the supergroup every night on the road. but threesome spouse doing some headline shows outside of the festival dates this spring and summer. Do they really have enough in their arsenal from the first EP of 2018 and the newly released full album to make a full show feel like a full meal?

That question has been answered quite satisfactorily—okay, let’s say pretty awesome—with Boygenius’ concert Wednesday night at the Fox Pomona Theater in Riverside County, California, they proudly and without too much nervousness announced their first gig since 2018. true and not true: Last year in San Francisco there was a 12-song aid in a 400-seat vehicle… and hey, what about the cheeky buskers in the Austin airport terminal during their SXSW arrival? But we know what they mean.)

Playing each song individually from their two LPs, including “The Record”, took almost a full 75 minutes, which is just as good as a main course, appetizers and dessert wines. FOMO was strong on this one, because a waiting Boygenius Nation ate all the sloppy seconds they could get from the video tracks on the web as the show progressed – and actually you made If you’re not one of the 1,750 inside, you’re missing out, but don’t worry, it will be a repeatable phenomenon.

Long story short, as for what’s on the way this summer: They’re strong enough to be your Group. On their first full-length album, the newly released “The Record,” Boygenius somehow managed to find the ideal balance and blend of voices, personalities, and musical sensibilities, probably without anyone breaking their calculator. This effortless alchemy inevitably continues with what’s called the Round, as going leaderless keeps putting them on the leaderboard. Let’s say if Lucy Dacus is going to star in two songs in a row on set, no apple cart will be upset – the flow between the songs they sing collectively or individually is so strong that, if any, she will spend many minutes of the show wondering how the exchanges in the spotlight will turn out. Even though this small group does their time under their belt, it’s as if they started out as Boygenius and I was solo projects with side jobs.

Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus performing on stage at the opening night of boygenius “the tour” held at The Fox Theater Pomona on April 12, 2023, in Pomona, California.
Gilbert Flores for Diversity

I have to admit, I came into this opening night with little apprehension other than whether the show would be long enough. That’s how they would distribute the blasts in their catalog on the set list, because there aren’t many. Specifically, there are two or so on “The Record” – “$20” and “Satanist” that count as really heavy-duty rockers. For symmetry’s sake maybe do one at the beginning and the other at the end? There is nothing that easy. The band performed both barnburners back-to-back at the very beginning of the show (or originally, they served as a quick a cappella start, as they immediately followed a much-shortened version of “Without You Without Them”). It takes a certain amount of arrogance to completely front-load your show with the few tricks that are most guaranteed to wreak havoc with the crowd.

Or a certain genre, um, genius? Giving up the pure gymnastics part of the show in the first place, the band had the freedom to move on to the balladic material that has characterized most of their two releases to date, and then, as the end draws near, they highlight some of the middle parts. – upbeat songs that take time to reach a kind of climax. Suffice it to say that Phoebe Bridgers didn’t scream for the last time when she opened her mouth to full-on rock bellows for “$20.” And Julien Baker, as the show progressed, would have more and more opportunities to bump into your face while playing the electric guitar so much that he’d bend his back and face himself with it. But there is so much beauty in the band’s nascent catalog that it was a blessing to know they’d be enjoying it for a long time, after initially half-flash-lit explosions.

Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker perform on stage at the opening night of boygenius “the tour” held at The Fox Theater Pomona on April 12, 2023, in Pomona, California.
Gilbert Flores for Diversity

After an offensive one-two of “$20” and “Satanist”, the band quickly struck the balance with arguably two of the best songs on “The Record”, Bridgers’ “Emily I’m Sorry” and Dacus’s “True Blue”. Even in this cute mini-series, there was a complementarity between ‘Emily’ turning long contemplation of the breakup into a sad song and ‘Blue’ presenting a wonderfully harmonious manifestation of togetherness. Boygenius is often referred to as the epitome of sadcore, but it’s not that simple, or at least not as of the new album. Because at least throughout “True Blue” you can describe the band like this: content core. “It feels good to be known this well,” Dacus says in one of the group’s most understated quotes. And while it was certainly intended to appeal to a friend or lover, it goes for how many of the band’s fans felt when they were obsessed with Boygenius, or alternately sweet and acidic songs: seen.

That song, which is already one of the most indelible songs of 2023, is like a hot bath you never want to get out of. But you have to go out and the show is so you can dry off with “Cool About It,” one of the more egalitarian, three-part harmony songs on the new album, where Bridgers took a solo line to sing. “Now I have to pretend I can’t read your mind.” This kind of lyric—not unusual in Boygenius’ repertoire—can send you into an emotional deep dive or a real mindf for a few measures before you need to catch your attention again to watch the show.

Phoebe Bridgers performs on stage at the opening night of the boygenius “the tour” held at The Fox Theater Pomona on April 12, 2023, in Pomona, California.
Gilbert Flores for Diversity

Group members (augmented by four additional players, mostly backlit) literally change stances at points to match the mood. Bridgers sat on the drum amplifier and strummed the acoustic guitar for a while; for a song, all three leading women were sitting or crouching on stage – which might be a bit of an ironic thing to do in front of an adrenaline-fuelled SRO crowd. Probably the favorite moment of every participant on the show, just physically, came the moment at the end of the main set, when Baker, who took the center position on the stage, literally knocked the Bridgers and Dacus at their feet and put him and his guitar down. to them. It wasn’t clear whether it was a friendly attack or a firm hug. Most likely, the horse game was mixed with a sense of glee, which they did so brilliantly at their out-of-town audition shows to kick off a tour that was sure to be much higher. better profile than they did five years ago, relatively ingenious.

Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus and Phoebe Bridgers performing at Fox Pomona at the close of their 2023 tour opening (Chris Willman/Variety)

They avoided using the microphone on the last song of their encore and sang “Ketchum, ID” as a closer group than they had in the previous 75 minutes, after successfully suggesting to the audience that they might need to calm down for this. This worked somewhat, as their unamplified voices were actually too quiet to reach the balcony throughout the tune this time – and there was a lot of laughter when someone’s walkie-talkie or monitor talk caused a huge blast of unwanted males. energy in the middle of the melody. But unlike the kind of players who flinched at this cut, they laughed at it. They probably will Negative I’m going to try this gamble at Coachella the next two weekends. But it was a nice enough gesture, you didn’t mind that some of them were inaudible. Part of the reason Bridgers has been so successful as a solo artist is because it makes you bend over to hear him in the world of shouting; Why not all these values ​​come to life at the end of a Boygenius concert?

Julien Baker performing on stage at the opening night of boygenius “the tour” held at The Fox Theater Pomona on April 12, 2023, in Pomona, California.
Gilbert Flores for Diversity

The band’s debut music, by the way, was 100 Late’s “Dumbest Girl Alive”… a kind of funny book ending after their intro song was Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back in Town”. Even with pre- and post-PA elections, it’s a completely non-binary world. Meanwhile, the three members of Boygenius will have to decide how dual they want to be with their careers on where to go next. This show is so good you might want to encourage them to do something totally illogical and do another Boygenius record and tour in 2024. Maybe that’s a silly hope, but “Kyoto” can wait – the kids are doing well, and the larger parts of the country deserve a chance to see one of the best touring rock shows ever to hit everyone in the near future.

The atmosphere at the opening night of the boygenius “the tour” held at The Fox Theater Pomona on April 12, 2023, in Pomona, California.
Gilbert Flores for Diversity

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