Phoebe Bridgers played her biggest show yet with Lucy Dacus & MUNA at Forest Hills Stadium (pics, video, setlist)
Phoebe Bridgers released her excellent sophomore album Punisher in June of 2020, shortly after the world went into an 18-month-long lockdown. The timing could've caused Phoebe's steady rise to flatten, but instead her rise became even more meteoric, and over the next year she turned an SNL appearance into a cultural moment, picked up four Grammy nominations, and sang on a Taylor Swift album, just to name a few things. That all culminated in her headlining 2022 tour, which wrapped up in NYC with two sold-out Prospect Park shows, followed by a very full crowd at the even bigger Forest Hills Stadium on Thursday night (6/16), which, as Phoebe mentioned on stage, was her biggest show to date. The intense lines to enter the venue and buy merch, the crush of people at the barricade, and the fans singing along to every word of every song; those are all part of the Phoebe Bridgers live experience now. She acknowledged the enormity of the setting onstage to huge cheers, thanking her entire tour crew, from drivers and techs to bandmates and her dog Maxine, sorted by astrological sign, of course, for allowing her to have such an easy time on this outing.
No matter how big she's gotten, Phoebe's music still has an incredible power to connect and make even a cavernous stadium feel intimate. She used the space to her advantage, adding video art that straddles the line between whimsical and macabre, featuring locations that look like they're constructed of paper folded out of books, and with lots of the aesthetic touchstones of her material: skeletons, stained glass, the moon. The latter, taking over the backdrop during the end of "Moon Song," made for an iconic visual moment that's already become the stuff of lots of Instagram posts: Phoebe and her guitar, silhouetted against the full moon.
"Moon Song" was a highlight of the evening, performed in its alternate, string-heavy version because of the presence of frequent in-studio collaborator Rob Moose (who's also known for working with yMusic, Bon Iver, Paul Simon, and many others) on violin. She remarked on how great it was to have him along for her NYC shows (which also included two sold out Prospect Park dates on Tuesday and Wednesday), and he definitely added to the richness of her sound.
The long teased "very special surprise guest" of the night was none other than Lucy Dacus, who played an opening set between MUNA (who I unfortunately missed at the Forest Hills show, but who were great when I did catch them at one of the Prospect Park shows) and Phoebe. Lucy brought out Phoebe and MUNA during her own set on "Going Going Gone," and came out again during Phoebe's set to harmonize on the achingly gorgeous "Graceland Too," and join in the cathartic tumult of main set closer "I Know The End." It wasn't a full boygenius reunion without Julien Baker, but it was fantastic all the same, especially to witness the strong friendship the two clearly have.
Phoebe's set has remained mostly the same throughout this tour, including all of Punisher (out of order) and a few of Stranger in the Alps' best songs. Phoebe, as she's done before, also spoke in support of abortion rights and healthcare access for transgender people from the stage, and during "Smoke Signals," the line "speeding 'cause fuck the cops" got the loudest shout-along of the night.
See pictures from Thursday night, along with Phoebe and Lucy's setlists and some video clips, below.
Phoebe is off to Europe on tour next, but you can catch Lucy in NYC again soon when she plays SummerStage at Central Park on July 21. That's with Hop Along, which is a great bill all around. MUNA also have NYC shows coming up, on 9/30, 10/1 and 10/2 at Irving Plaza.
SETLIST: PHOEBE BRIDGERS @ FOREST HILLS STADIUM, 6/16/2022
I Know the End
SETLIST: LUCY DACUS @ FOREST HILLS STADIUM, 6/16/2022
Hot & Heavy
Going Going Gone
Triple Dog Dare