Pop Break Live: Phoebe Bridgers with Angelica Garcia at The Asbury Lanes
Words by Christian Bischoff
Tattooed punks and local hipsters filtered into Asbury Lanes last night during Angelica Garcia’s opening set. Garcia, a high school classmate of headliner Phoebe Bridgers, took the stage solo. Throughout the course of her set, Garcia layered often-acapella arrangements to create complicated vocal landscapes that complimented her crisp tone. Her set was a welcome moment of brightness in what promised to be a wonderfully somber evening.
Members of the crowd mumble-rapped their way through Phoebe’s walkout song, “Lose Yourself” as Bridgers and her band took the stage. The singer plunged into “Smoke Signals”, the atmospheric opening track from her 2017 debut Stranger in the Alps. Bridgers’ music is famously sad – every review of her album has unfailingly described her sound with some variation of “emo” or “goth.” Tuesday night, her band certainly looked the part, outfitted in matching black suits befitting a funeral. Bridgers was similarly outfitted in a black dress, and navigated through the aptly named song “Funeral” before belting old favorite “Georgia,” despite feedback issues with sound.
Though her music is lavishly depressing, Bridgers was warm and charming onstage, dedicating “Would You Rather” to her younger brother before delighting the crowd with “Demi Moore,” a self-described reminder to not get stoned. After playing “Killer” and “Steamroller,” two tracks from her Killer EP, Bridgers covered “the only song about music streaming,” Gillian Welch’s “Everything is Free” with drummer Marshall Vore.
Then, to the delight of the assembled New Jerseyians, she sang an obligatory Bruce cover, offering an ethereal acoustic reimagining of “I’m On Fire.” Playing live, Bridgers is impeccable – her voice manages to navigate note perfect changes from breathy conversation to full belt with little strain. The more production-heavy qualities of her album’s sound were absent from the set. Instead, the live band gave her feelings a more folksy feel, featuring a notable and welcome emphasis on steel guitar.
The backing band returned to the stage for Bridgers’ most up-tempo track, “Motion Sickness” a biting ode to an ex-lover. Her encore featured a long macabre take on Mark Kozelek and Jimmy LaValle’s “You Missed My Heart,” and ended with a rollicking cover of ’90s icon Sheryl Crow’s “If It Makes You Happy.”
During her set, Bridgers recounted her day in town – a walk on the beach, an examination of the bowling ball American flag hanging in the Lanes. “Asbury loves you!” someone shouted from the crowd. It was an incredible night – Asbury looks forward to many happy returns.
Would You Rather
Cover – Everything is Free by Gillian Welch
Cover – I’m on Fire by Bruce Springsteen
Cover –You Missed My Heart by Mark Kozelek and Jimmy LaValle
Cover – If It Makes You Happy by Sheryl Crow