In summer 2020 deep into the pandemic, a friend introduced me to Phoebe Bridgers. Fast forward a little over a year, I find myself masked showing my vaccine card and ID to employees working at the sold-out 4,000 person venue for Bridgers’ opening night of the “Reunion Tour.”
The venue — Chesterfield Amphitheater near St. Louis — was a last-minute change. The concert was originally going to take place at the Pageant, an indoor venue in St. Louis. Bridgers opted to move all the venues on her tour outdoors to keep fans safe.
The excitement in the air was mixed with annoyance as people waited in long lines. Ah, lines. How much I did not miss standing in you. We made our way through the gates, hearing the hum of the opener, Bartees Strange, who had already started.
It has been a year and a half since I’ve seen that many people in one place. We were all there for the same reason and I’ve missed the feeling of attending a concert with others.
What I saw of the opener was great and set the tone for the night. The crowd's energy dipped during the hour-long wait between the opener’s set and Bridgers. She later said on stage this was because of technical difficulties, which shouldn’t have been a surprise for the first night. I wished I was able to scroll through TikTok, but I had forgotten that crowds equal bad LTE connection.
The band, donning its signature skeleton outfits, started with the song “Motion Sickness” from her first album “Stranger in the Alps.” There were a few other technical issues, such as a humming sound which could be heard during “Garden Song.” By the time they got to “Kyoto,” they had fixed the issues, which was early on.
Bridgers took the audience on a journey, playing mostly songs from her most recent album, “Punisher,” in order. She said the band has never gotten to play these songs for a crowd, since the album was released in 2020. She stopped a few times to thank everyone.
Emotions were running high in the crowd and I could hear multiple people crying around me.
Bridgers looked to be having a good time with the band. I’m sure they were soaking in the feeling of being on stage together in front of a large crowd again. The experience felt personal and raw, even with so many people there. To me, her music can be described this way too, so the concert did a great job capturing that feeling.
The dialogue between the audience and the performer is something I forgot about with live music. People kept screaming they loved her and she couldn’t stop smiling. It’s always a weird feeling to think a famous person is right on stage in front of you.
In what felt like ten minutes but was a little over an hour, the concert came to a climactic close( I don’t want to give away too much).
Last month, Bridgers was a surprise guest at Pete Holmes’ monthly “Living at Largo” concert and decided to bring Burnham out with her to perform the song. She said she wished she wrote the song herself.
Her band joined her onstage as the song progressed. It was a bittersweet ending since the lyrics focus on how messed up the state of the world is. It was the perfect punctuation to her concert.
Overall, it felt great to share this experience with thousands of people, but it was also the weird moments like showing your vaccine cards and being moved outside which made me wonder if this is what concerts will look like from now on.
It made me believe no concert I will go to will feel exactly the same as the ones I went to before the pandemic.