Phoebe Bridgers – E-Werk, Cologne; July 18th, 2022
Over the years I have learned that when it comes to concerts, I need to follow my instinct and when my heart tells me to go to a show, I should do all I can to be there. On Friday I listened to my heart and bought a ticket to see Phoebe Bridgers on Monday. I was one of the best shows I have attended this year!
The original plan was to see my friend Ragnar play in Szamotouly on Sunday and return home Monday morning. That plan had already been altered by Flixbus canceling my bus and rebooking me to a late one. So I would not have made it home before noon, which seemed a hassle. Then, on Friday, I found out Phoebe Bridgers was playing in Cologne on Monday and changed all plans to be there. 🙂
Thus, I found myself outside E-Werk at 4:30 in the afternoon. Due to the heat the security guards gave out numbers and told us to find shade and come back around 6 and they’d line us up in order. It worked pretty well. Kudos to the organizers! While standing in line, an envelope was making its way through the line with red and blue pieces of paper and instuctions to take one each and put them in front of our phone lights during ‘Punisher’.
Once they let us in I immediately went upstairs and had the entire balcony to myself for a bit. Eventually others joined me and we had nice conversations. Much sooner than expected the lights went out and Phoebe introduced the support act, Sloppy Jane. I later learned that she used to play bass with them. Sloppy Jane started with an instrumental, that was heavy on the strings. I liked it and their set only got better from there. It was a cool mixture of music and performance art, in the process of which the singer stripped off her pants and replaced them with high boots. It was fun to watch and especially when she turned to the piano it reminded me of Amanda Palmer. What a great start. 😀
It was only a short wait now and many of us on the balcony stayed sated for a little while longer. When the lights went down again, everyone got up and big smiles showed up on the faces all around me as we heard Disturbed’s ‘Down with the Sickness’ play from the speakers. Phoebe and her band, all in cool skeleton clothes, walked on stage and the song turned into ‘Motion Sickness’. Cheers erupted everywhere, the sound was amazing and I already loved it.
She continued with ‘Play video’ and ‘DVD Menu’ – somewhere in there she greeted us and with this started an ongoing conversation with the audience. It was attentive, friendly and caring throughout. I was deeply moved not only by the music, but by the love I felt that night, flowing between the stage and the audience.
For ‘Garden Song’ her tour manager Jeroen Vrijhoef joined her and like for everything else, the fans sang along to every word. <3 It was all a beautiful get together. At one point Phoebe was concerned with us getting enough to drink in the hat and asked the venue staff to give out water. She was also reading placards that people held up. “This one reads ‘She is a ten but looks like Draco Malfoy’ – that’s an and for me and fuck JK Rowling obviously!” Another one read ‘Fuck the Surpreme Court’ – she used it to give a shoutout for an organization that funds abortions for undocumented people and generally suggested giving money to abortion funds, fully aware that we might not feel we needed to solve another countries’ problems. She concluded that it as nice to be away from the US for a while.
‘Kyoto’ followed, for all the dads in the house, then ‘Punisher’. I held up my phone with the flashlight glowing red as red and blue lights went up all over the place. It looked amazing and Phoebe was really happy about it, asking who organized it and thanking them. After so much happiness, she promised us misery on the next song, ‘Halloween’.
I loved everything about the concert from the songs to the beautiful lights to the wonderful fans and was moved to tears a few times, even though I cannot recall which songs did that. it definitely felt like Phoebe was connecting with all of us and more than once I looked at the woman to my right, singing along with all of her heart and full of passion. I saw myself there, singing along with my favorite artists and could not help but smile. This was love.
Before ‘Funeral’ she talked about depression and how some people thought she made it sound cool, but that was not her intention and everyone who suffered from it should get help. This song, she explained, was about how it felt like for her. The setlist was perfect and only lack of familiarity with Phoebe’s songs stops me from raving about each one individually. I recognized most of them, but I’m terrible at remembering the titles or what happened where. Let me just say that I enjoyed the show tremendously and was really glad I decided to go.
Somewhere in the second half, a lot of people gave her presents and she commented on all of them, expressing how nice they were and what she might do with them. Someone threw a blinking cowboy hat on stage and she put it on for one song. She as clearly having fun! After the beautiful ICU she told us that the next one, ‘Sidelines’ was her last song. Of curse we cheered for more and nobody bothered with leaving the stage.
They played ‘Graceland too’ and Phoebe ended the set with calling Sloppy Jane to the stage to help with ‘I know the End’. It was a great rendition of the song. They said goodbye, but would give us one last song, a request. While she was looking at the fan’s signs and deciding what to play, she introduced the band to us. That night, the final song was ‘Gloria’ and as the last notes rang out, I left with a happy sigh escaping me. This is how a concert should be!
Down With the Sickness (Disturbed song) – from tape
Garden Song (with Jeroen Vrijhoef)
I Know The End (with Sloppy Jane)