boygenius Leave The Crowd Wanting More
Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus have created something magical with boygenius. A lot has changed for the trio since they last played Vancouver at the Commodore Ballroom in 2018; their show on Friday night at PNE Amphitheatre, which kicked off the second leg of the band’s tour for their first full length the record, sold out almost immediately. However, their recent skyrocket from a beloved rock band comprised of three acclaimed and highly respected indie artists to a phenomenon inciting a reaction that’s been likened to the rock stars of the 1960s isn’t the only thing that’s changed over the last five years. boygenius was already a self assured, clever, self aware band of brilliant musicians in their own right who emphasize the best in each other, and they’re more of it all than ever.
boygenius is a band built and maintained on love, and the love the three of them have for each other translates in to their music and performances. This love funnels in to the fan response to the music, which was felt deeply by those in attendance. Friends were holding hands and crying before the group even took the stage, friendship bracelets were handed out, and there was so much joy both on and off the stage it felt like the venue might burst with it despite being outdoors.
Following an offstage performance of the record’s opening track Without You Without Them, boygenius immediately launched in to $20, a high energy Baker-driven song about running and ruin that served as one of the record’s three lead singles. Accompanied by a sunset over the next hour and a half the trio not only played the entirety of the record, but their complete 2018 self-titled EP, an unreleased song currently known as Boyfriend (preceded by Bridgers asking a crowd of predominantly queer women if they “like boyfriends” to be met with a mixed response; she knew that was coming), as well as Please Stay (Dacus), Favor (Baker) and Graceland Too (Bridgers), songs from their most recent solo albums where the other two artists provided backing vocals on the recordings. While Me & My Dog and Not Strong Enough ignited the strongest responses of the night and transformed the amphitheatre in to a 7000 person singalong, no song was left behind and they were all met with enthusiasm.
boygenius closed their set with their 2018 track Salt In The Wound, a song that starts big only to grow in to something massive and showcases the band at their absolute best. Five years ago Bridgers and Dacus would bow town to Baker as she shredded her way through the guitar solo that concludes the song. Now the solo feels like the band celebrating each other and what they’ve created both for themselves and their fans. Last night Dacus draped herself in a lesbian flag given by fans to the band while her and Bridgers lovingly threw pink carnations, a tribute to We’re In Love, from a bouquet also given by fans back in to the crowd before tackling Baker to the ground in an embrace without her missing a note. It is truly a joy an an honour to be able to witness and experience what Boygenius have created, and we should all be celebrating with them as well.
The night began with sets from Illuminati Hotties and Carly Rae Jepsen. Illuminati Hotties frontwoman Sarah Tudzin contributed towards production on the record and commanded her way through a brief but intense set. Her music is often loud and always fun, and Tudzin seemed to be having the time of her life translating her excellent recorded music in to an even better live set. Meanwhile Jepsen, for whom this was a hometown show, broke up the indie rock acts with a full pop production complete with choreography and a six-piece band. Her hits were divided up with more laidback songs, but kept the crowd going regardless.
Words and photos by Camryn Montebruno
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