Pitchfork Livestream / Pheobe Bridgers

April 12, 2020

Pheobe Bridgers’ Concert in Celestial Pajamas

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There is no better way to spend a Friday afternoon than cooped up with Phoebe Bridgers. Over the past few days, the singer-songwriter has been making multiple online appearances in a set of black, collared pajamas adorned with shooting stars, and making my wishes come true with the announcement of her sophomore album Punisher, to be released June 12 2020.

There is a playful intimacy to the livestreamed quarantine concerts which have recently cropped up across the internet. In a musical landscape that has largely embraced lofi production in the past couple of years, home is the ideal performance setting. Bridgers’ recent appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live! this past Thursday night and on Pitchfork’s Instagram TV the following afternoon featured the singer dressed down in a set of celestial pajamas (the same pair that appeared in the music video for the album’s first single, February’s “Garden Song”). But Bridgers’ is a talent that needs no dressing up.

The appearance on Kimmel to promote “Kyoto” featured Bridgers seated in her bathtub, accompanied by a handheld synthesizer and a plastic toy microphone taped to the stand. The upbeat tune, written about Bridgers’ first trip to Japan, is a stark contrast to the brooding ballads which Bridgers mastered on her debut Stranger in the Alps. For a song which is about this rising star’s imposter syndrome, there is no better presentation of her effortless vocal performance than among mildew-stained tiles and a single bottle of Head & Shoulders shampoo.

The Pitchfork performance this Friday afternoon is even more intimate. Bridgers opens the performance with her head cocked to one side, adjusting the camera angle, with the left side of her face bathed in light from her apartment’s sunny window. With echoey acoustics and a few surprising melodic variations, Bridgers’ biggest hit “Motion Sickness” opened the set, but it was the end of the set, the abrupt and casual “Cool” by Bridgers which ushered in the true magic of these livestream concerts: Her conversational interludes. Between the first and second songs, Bridgers tuned her guitar, and spoke to the audience of nearly 8,000 faceless viewers, and to no one in particular said: “I’ve been wearing these pajamas for eight days.” For a moment, it felt as if Bridgers, answering audience questions directly and smiling, was in the room with us. We were all sitting at home in our pajamas together.

The performance became especially poignant when she performed “Summer’s End” by the recently deceased John Prine: “Okay, now I’m gonna do a John Prine song, because, um, for obvious reasons.” Even as we suffer the humdrum existence of life in quarantine, it is impossible to ignore the grim reality of the virus ravaging the world. But the world will undoubtedly go on, and when it does, you can be sure I will be buying tickets to a live show.

Anna Canny is a junior in the College of Agricultural Life and Sciences. She can be reached at acanny@cornellsun.com.