If Phoebe Bridgers seemed to arrive fully formed on her debut 7″ Killer, that’s because she had been playing music since an early age, before she launched the solo career that we’re now all familiar with. And as Chorus.fm just posted, one of Phoebe’s early bands, Buster, actually has a full seven-song EP from 2014 on Bandcamp, and some of this stuff sounds as great as the music she makes now.
Buster’s lineup also included Harrison Whitford, who still plays with Phoebe to this day, and Jackson White, who currently stars on HBO’s Mrs. Fletcher (and who’s the son of Married… With Children and Sons of Anarchy star Katey Sagal and session drummer Jack White) (not that Jack White). Their EP was recorded with help from violinist Elenore Denig, cellist Lily Moffett, veteran session bassist Rick Chudacoff, and veteran session organist Bill LaBounty. Phoebe splits vocals with Jackson and Harrison, but even in this band where she’s one of three singers, you can hear the seeds being sewn for the music she makes now (especially on “Adeline” and “A Song A Day”). Listen and watch a live session video of Buster from 2015 below.
Buster wasn’t the only band Phoebe played in before starting her current solo career, though. As she discussed on Damian Abraham’s podcast “Turned Out a Punk” with eventual collaborator Conor Oberst, She also had a band before that called Einstein’s Dirty Secret, and some of the songs that became Phoebe Bridgers date back to that band, like “Waiting Room” and “Georgia,” both of which that band performed at a 2012 concert that you can watch a YouTube playlist of below. “Georgia” is the fifth song and “Waiting Room” is the seventh.
But wait, there’s more. Even before (and possibly during) Einstein’s Dirty Secret was Phoebe and the He Men, and you can watch two videos of that band performing in 2010 below. One of their songs, “Turned Around,” also became one of Phoebe’s early solo songs.
Phoebe and her Buster bandmate Jackson White also lent their guitars and voices to a song by Terra Naomi in 2013 before that Buster EP came out, and a video of the three of them performing that is below too.
And at the very bottom of this post, you can find some videos of Phoebe doing some solo covers back in 2009 and 2010.
LA Underground wrote a blog post about seeing and booking Phoebe’s early bands too:
…Phoebe started playing and the first thing we noticed was that she was just so damn genuine. And confident. And bursting with talent.
She continued to play around town with her bands Phoebe Bridgers & The He Men, Einstein’s Dirty Secret, and later, Buster. And, finally, after seeing a fantastic show at Amplyfi, we emailed her to see if she would like to play one of our low-key nights at pehrspace. True, all our nights are pretty low-key but on this particular evening, we had her play with actor Henry Thomas’s band Farspeaker, Rachel Rufrano’s trio Rainman (now called Rufrano), and Black Bear & the Cheyenne Band — all great bands with not a lot of following yet. In other words, it’s one of the most perfect la-underground lineups we have ever put together and, of course, no one showed up. Still, Phoebe smiled out to the crowd of maybe ten people and unflinchingly played the best show we have ever seen her do.
Now back to 2020: Phoebe has a new album, Punisher (featuring Conor Oberst, Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus, Nick Zinner, Harrison Whitford, and more) coming out on Dead Oceans in June, she’s featured on the upcoming Hayley Williams and The 1975 albums, and she’s covering a 1975 song for a livestream today (5/7). UPDATE: Punisher is out now — get it on vinyl in our shop.
And here she is covering Joni Mitchell‘s “River” in 2010:
And covering Dave Alvin‘s “Dry River” in 2009:
Much more recently we caught Phoebe Bridgers at Brooklyn Steel with Boygenius. Check out some photos:
Even more recently, Phoebe appeared in the just-released video for Christian Lee Hutson‘s “Get The Old Band Back Together” (off his upcoming album Beginners, which Phoebe produced), which also features Conor Oberst (on harmonica), Hand Habits’ Meg Duffy (on guitar), and more. Watch: