Sloppy Jane opens for Phoebe Bridgers

todayMay 30, 2022 128 1

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by Ashley Farnie

Music Director


Since Punisher’s release in 2020, Phoebe Bridgers stans, myself included, have been awaiting the album’s tour. Punisher’s emotional transparency soundtracked many of our quarantine beginnings, breeding a generation of depressed adolescents. Opening with a cinematic overture and closing with an orchestrated ballad that builds into screams, two years were spent imagining the potential of Punisher onstage. Thankfully, Phoebe set out on her Reunion Tour accompanied by artists on her label, Saddest Factory Records.


Phoebe Bridgers with a black electric guitar, illuminated by a golden glow and backgrounded by a starry sky.
Phoebe Bridgers performs “Motion Sickness.” Ashley Farnie / KTSW


The SFR artist opening for Phoebe differs by city on the tour, and Austin, TX was graced with the presence of Sloppy Jane. Sloppy Jane performed at SXSW for the SFR showcase, but set lengths were shortened to allow for more performances. This time, Sloppy Jane’s theatrical presence lived to its full potential, with a stage size adequate for their ensemble.

Haley Dahl with a blue electric guitar, illuminated by a blue glow and backgrounded by a white television, reading “SLOPPY JANE.”
Sloppy Jane performs in front of a television graphic. Ashley Farnie / KTSW


Stepping out in her signature royal blue velvet suit, Haley Dahl assumes her position to conduct her orchestra. Sighs of surprise and excitement resounded from the pit of teenage girls behind me. Sloppy Jane recorded their latest album, Madison, inside of a cave, and the acoustics of Austin’s Moody Amphitheater came close to doing it justice – or maybe I was just leaning against the speaker to take pictures. The orchestra crescendos into the finale of “Party Anthem,” and Haley’s stage presence comes to life.


Phoebe Bridgers with an acoustic guitar, illuminated by a purple glow, backed by a garden scene with a bridge and tidal wave.
Phoebe Bridgers performs “Garden Song. Ashley Farnie / KTSW


Before stripping down to her boots and bodysuit, Haley escapes to the edge of the stage, returning with streams of blue glitter tears down her cheeks. Sloppy Jane showcases their diversity and complexity, transitioning into “Where’s My Wife,” a hard rock anthem from their debut album Willow. Haley screams and runs across the stage while the orchestra members take turns on the mic, contributing to the repetitive chorus of the song, and adding to the camaraderie of the band’s onstage presence.


Haley Dahl with a blue electric guitar, illuminated by blue stage lights.
Haley Dahl on electric guitar. Ashley Farnie / KTSW


Sloppy Jane exists beyond the limits of genre , exhibiting their range sonically from melodic psalms to screaming rock, and musically, from diverse song structures to rhythmic variations. I think all of Austin can agree that we would like a Sloppy Jane headline tour in the near future<3


Haley Dahl captivates the crowd.
Haley Dahl performs “Party Anthem.” Ashley Farnie / KTSW


Phoebe strums the first chord of her most streamed track, “Motion Sickness,” and high-pitched screams arise throughout Waterloo Park to the rooftops of surrounding parking garages, where fans look through binoculars to glimpse at the sold-out show. Backgrounded by a digital starry night sky and illuminated by a golden glow, Phoebe brings the Punisher energy to her debut album, Stranger in the Alps, concluding the bridge with an impassioned scream.


: Phoebe Bridgers with a black electric guitar, illuminated by a golden glow and backgrounded by a starry sky.
Phoebe Bridgers performs “Motion Sickness.” Ashley Farnie / KTSW


A storybook appears atop the night sky reading “Punisher,” covered in sketches relating to the album’s lyrics, transitioning to the performance of her latest independent record.  As Phoebe turns to face the crowd, the storybook unfolds and reveals itself as a pop-up book. A grassland appears, scattered with various types of trees and a wooden bridge overarching a river. The scenic forest – or shall I say, garden, – paints a visualization of “Garden Song,” track two on the album and second song of the night.


A graphic of a Punisher storybook appears with white sketches of lyrical elements – including a moon, ghost, “the end is near” sign. Phoebe Bridgers faces the screen holding a guitar.
Phoebe Bridgers performs Punisher. Ashley Farnie / KTSW


The rhythmic picking pattern that endures throughout “Garden Song” reverberates off the concrete structures of the venue, while Phoebe’s airy vocals steadily carry her vulnerable melodies. The lights wrapped around the microphone stand make visible her strumming an acoustic guitar, singing, “I have everything I want.”


Phoebe Bridgers with an acoustic guitar, illuminated by a purple glow, backed by a garden scene with a bridge and tidal wave.
Phoebe Bridgers performs “Garden Song.” Ashley Farnie / KTSW


Phoebe swaps the acoustic for a geometrically intricate electric guitar and dedicates the next song to the dads. The storybook flips to a depiction of Kyoto incorporating lyrical elements of the song: the payphone from where her dad called, the truck her dad let her and her little brother drive, and a cherry blossom, emblematic of Japan. Phoebe’s “woo” after the first chorus gains applause and the trumpet bridges the lyrical gap while the band picks up pace.


Phoebe Bridgers with a black electric guitar, backgrounded by a storybook page of Kyoto, including a payphone and truck from the song lyrics.
Phoebe Bridgers performs “Kyoto.” Ashley Farnie / KTSW


“Kyoto”’s high point lulls to the piano melody of the title track, “Punisher,” and Phoebe abandons her instrument. A glowing outline of mountains appears atop the starry screen shone with purple lights, stripping the performance into piano and Phoebe’s voice. Phoebe steps offstage to sing to the sobbing girls clutched to the barricade, grasping hands with a sixteen-year-old whose life has now been made.

Following the order of the album, orange lights come up and the storybook flips to a cemetery scene with a trick-or-treating ghost for “Halloween.” Phoebe and guitarist Harrison Whitford alternate singing “whatever you want” through the close of the song, harmonizing as in the recording.


Phoebe Bridgers with a black acoustic guitar, illuminated by red and blue stage lighting.
Phoebe Bridgers performs “Chinese Satellite.” Ashley Farnie / KTSW


Phoebe tells the audience this song was inspired by religious picketers, then draws attention to the current crisis at-hand and offers suggestions for further information. The storybook flips to the skyline of a city hovered by a “Chinese Satellite.”


 Phoebe Bridgers with a black acoustic guitar, backgrounded by a full moon.
Phoebe Bridgers performs “Moon Song.” Ashley Farnie / KTSW


A full moon appears in the starry sky, and the storybook turns its page to [look at fuji]. My content of “Moon Song,” my favorite song from the record, consists of my screaming the lyrics and my unsteady camera attempting to focus on Phoebe while I tried to see through the tears. The storybook fades offscreen and the moon centers itself in the night sky.

Interspersed between Punisher tracks, Phoebe played “Smoke Signals” and “Scott Street” from her debut album, as well as her latest single for the Hulu adaptation of Sally Rooney’s Conversations With Friends, “Sidelines.” The screen graphic turns into a video of the single cover for “Sidelines,” portraying her grandpa riding a bull. The black and white graphics onscreen focused the performance on the emotion of the love song, something Phoebe says is new for her typical cynic self.


Phoebe Bridgers backgrounded by a video of her grandfather riding a bull. Image is black-and-white and indistinguishable.
Phoebe Bridgers performs “Sidelines.” Ashley Farnie / KTSW


Exemplified by the t-shirt for sale at the merch table that reads “I hate your mom,” Phoebe dedicates “ICU” to those who struggle with parental political conflicts.


Phoebe Bridgers backgrounded by a starry sky and the outline of a mountain range.
Phoebe Bridgers performs “Punisher.” Ashley Farnie / KTSW


Phoebe invites Sloppy Jane back on stage as the orchestra for the final track on Punisher and finale of the show. Phoebe begins the opening lines and the Austin crowd overpowers her voice, screaming along, “man, I hate this part of Texas.” “I Know The End” starts out [word choice] with melodic verses, akin to the sound of “Savior Complex.” The song then picks up with steady guitar strumming while the violin and drums transform the song into an American (dare I say anti-?) anthem. The trumpet’s crescendo brings forth the onset of screams and an onstage mosh by the members of the two bands onstage.


Phoebe Bridgers with a black electric guitar and Haley Dahl in royal blue blazer, backgrounded by red stage lighting.
Phoebe Bridgers performs “I Know The End.” Ashley Farnie / KTSW


Phoebe’s abrupt departure from the stage was followed shortly after by her solo return for an encore. After asking Austin what we want to hear, Phoebe retrieves a pink cowboy hat from the pit and sings “Georgia” on acoustic guitar.


Phoebe Bridgers in a pink cowboy hat with a black acoustic guitar, backgrounded by a starry sky.
Phoebe Bridgers performs “Georgia.” Ashley Farnie / KTSW


Phoebe’s onstage performance and visual representations of Punisher add a new dimension to the album’s meaning. With the tracks performed in the order of the album, Phoebe establishes Punisher as a complete work dependent upon chronology. Phoebe’s Reunion Tour continues throughout the month of August, with nearly half of the dates already sold out. Charlie Hickey will accompany Phoebe for the next set of tour dates, followed by Claud, MUNA, and, finally, Christian Lee Hutson. Catch Phoebe live if you have the chance and be sure to stream albums in order.

Written by: ktsw899

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