The concert prompts introspective reflection – Old Gold & Black
How a simple performance brought out the true power of great music
Tuesday was the start of fall. It was also rainy and my ex-boyfriend’s birthday. What better way to celebrate all the emotions of the day than by attending a Phoebe Bridgers concert?
I want to make it clear that Phoebe Bridgers is one of my favorite musical artists to have ever graced the face of the planet. She has a clear, light and captivating voice that tells the beautiful words that she writes with ease. I also want to make it clear that after six minutes of writing this will be less of a concert review than a commentary on how your favorite artist can define the major moments in your life. Now let’s get into it.
Tuesday night was the first time I saw Bridgers in concert, although I am no stranger to his work. I remember when his first album, “Stranger in the Alps”, came out in 2017. I was in high school and listened to his minimalist songs like “Chelsea”, “Georgia”, “Funeral” and “Scott Street” on repeat until the sound of an acoustic guitar makes me sick.
Even though I wanted to, I never had the chance to see Bridgers back then. His second album, “Punisher” was released on June 17th, 2020. I remember the date better than some of my friends’ birthdays because waiting for this album was one of the only tangible things that got me through my forties. Scoring 8.7 on Pitchfork, the songs on the album are candid, raw, and powerful. And the crowd at the Bridgers show on Tuesday night suggests I’m not the only one thinking so.
But this article isn’t an album review, event story, or musical manifesto – it’s a reflection on the powerful role music plays in our lives.
As I stood in the pit of the Red Hat Amphitheater in Raleigh, craning my neck for a better view, I had an eye opener about the role music plays in my life.
I realized that the power in music comes from something deeper than the artist delivering the lyrics. Yes, it sounds pretentious and I already hate myself for saying it, but it’s true.
I say this because I prepared this idea in my head that I would scream when Bridgers took the stage. After all, she has been my favorite artist for almost half a decade. But, when I laid eyes on her, nothing.
Yes, I was incredibly excited. Yes, I was physically unable to wipe a smile from my face – but there were no tears. No “a-ha” moment occurred in which my soul opened up and I started sobbing because I finally felt fulfilled.
I was puzzled. Wasn’t this performance supposed to be the most formative moment of my concert experiences so far? Why didn’t I want to scream, cry? I was happy. Content, even.
If you are a Bridgers fan, you can see why this isn’t quite normal. Before going to the gig, I even made a joke about pre-playing for the gig by “microdosing depression” (AKA not taking my Zoloft). But, I was there, standing in the rain, listening to Bridgers sing softly about atheism, failed relationships and mental illness. And I was happy.
Then the real revelation came: artists are simply a vessel for their music. It is the lyrics, feelings and memories they evoke that make songs and artists so important.
As I enjoyed the rest of the Bridgers set, screaming and dancing when appropriate, I let myself slip into a nostalgic state of mind. When she was playing “Funeral,” I thought of myself as a high school kid, blasting the song up in my little Ford Fusion and crying over issues I can’t remember. When she sang “Moon Song,” I looked at myself sitting on the floor of my bedroom, grateful for a relationship that I am no longer in.
When it’s plotted on a timeline, my life naturally has a soundtrack to it. Tuesday night was a training night, but not in the way I expected. Rather than walk away after a cathartic cry, I left feeling more full and enjoyed the journey I had come with the music telling my story.