There are devil horns atop The Bowl this evening: a frightening addition fitting of this evening’s clientele – a skeleton army here to celebrate All Hallows Eve with one of the most talked-about bands on the planet, boygenius.
Seven months since the release of their Grammy-nominated debut album, ‘The Record‘, an LP that meshed three talents – Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker – to create an indie-rock album as tender as it is ferocious, the band have reached the end of an extensive tour. One that has seen the crowds grow, the singing louden and the band reach the sort of stratospheric heights formerly only reserved for crusty old rock dudes.
Tonight, in front of 17,000 people at Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl, is a celebration of everything they’ve achieved together.
After the now traditional walk-on music of ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ fades, the band begin off stage huddled together to deliver the perfect harmonies of album opener, ‘Without You, Without Them’. It’s here that we get a glimpse of the trio’s Halloween costumes: Phoebe as a bejewelled holy ghost, Lucy as The Father, suited and booted and Julien – in an astounding move – as Jesus Christ, adorned with a crown of thorns and sparkly tears.
Running on stage to the opening riffs of ‘$20’ we’re off the races, the first segment of the show reserved for the trio’s rowdier tracks. Three songs in Bridgers welcomes “their friend Dave Grohl” to the stage to drum on ‘Satanist’ – a little reminder of the circles these once indie outliers now move.
But though the riffs of ‘Satanist’ and ‘Not Strong Enough’ are singalong highs, it’s the stillness that washes over the crowd during the band’s more tender tracks, that are the most affecting moments. Before singing album closer, ‘Letter To An Old Poet’, Bridgers asks the crowd to put their phones away. “This has been a really intense song to sing so I appreciate seeing your faces”. They oblige and she walks out into the crowd, an ethereal vision in white, hands reaching out to touch her mostly-sobbing audience.
For songs from ‘The Rest’, the band’s recently-released EP, the trio appear on the B-stage in the middle of The Bowl, giving fans in the cheap seats a thrill. Here, it’s Baker’s ‘Powers’ that really lands. Throughout, Baker – who arguably was the lesser known of the three before boygenius’ return – takes centre stage, flanked by two best friends delighted to see their bandmate’s combined nerves and euphoria.
As the show draws to a close, it’s time for this group of three frontwomen to pay tribute to each other, each taking on a rendition of a bandmate’s solo hits. Baker’s version of Bridgers’ ‘Motion Sickness’ is perfection, Dacus singing Baker’s ‘Good News’ is given new depths with her distinctive vocal and the crowd bellowing along to the key change in Bridgers’ version of Dacus’ ‘Night Shift’ is a set high.
As has become customary, the show ends with the band collapsed in a heap, kissing each other ferociously and thanking the crowd for making this ‘absurd dream’ possible with a sincerity that’s palpable. Boygenius are one of the greatest American bands of our time – and they deserve it all and more.