In front of a galaxy-patterned backdrop, wearing her signature skeleton onesie, Los Angeles-based musician Phoebe Bridgers performed an acoustic set exclusively for the Whitman community on Friday, May 7.
Whitman Events Board welcomed Bridgers over Zoom, where she played an array of songs from her 2020 album “Punisher,” along with her 2017 album “Stranger in the Alps” and 2018’s “boygenius,” a collaboration between Bridgers and folk rock musicians Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker.
Afterwards, with her black pug Maxine snoring on her lap, Bridgers answered questions posed by the WEB music directors, seniors Lizzy Gazeley and Anna Pulscak.
“She’s a very open and casual person,” Gazeley said. “She’s very relatable with her audience, and she was even answering questions in the chat throughout, which we weren’t expecting she was going to, but I’m really happy she did and I think it really helped her connect with our audience and make the concert feel more personal to the Whitman students.”
This year, Bridgers received a Grammy nomination for “Best New Artist.” Her song “Kyoto” earned her nominations for “Best Rock Song” and “Best Rock Performance,” and her album “Punisher” received a Grammy nomination for “Best Rock Album.”
Bridgers talked about the experience of creating “Punisher.”
“I don’t know what the inspiration was. I write pretty sporadically, I don’t really write in bursts so I’ve never had a concept album,” she said. “The inspiration was my life. I feel like it has a lot of dissociation on it, both good and bad. I don’t feel things when bad things are happening but also don’t feel things when good things are happening.”
Before the official Q&A, Bridgers engaged with students in the Zoom chat during her performance.
“I really appreciated watching people give Phoebe some love in the chat and and seeing names of seniors and Whitman students that I haven’t seen for over a year in person,” Gazeley said. “It was really awesome to see names that I didn’t know, first years and sophomores that I was unfortunately never able to meet but also enjoying the same music that I listened to when I was a sophomore and a first year living in Jewett.”
Sophomore Benjamin Seashore Hobson started listening to Bridgers’ music during the quarantine period in January. He reflected on the benefits of the Zoom format:
“To feel like you have a little window into a performer’s life was cool,” Hobson said. “It was just her with her guitar sitting there playing and it felt very cool to feel that close to her though obviously she has no idea who any of us are.”
Gazeley and Pulscak told Bridgers that Walla Walla would love to welcome her back when she’s able to perform in person again.
Bridgers expressed her excitement to return to live shows and to reconnect with different places while on tour:
“You meet people in real life and they affect you, and you roam around and take a walk and the barista gives you a free coffee and you just feel nice and you hear yourself in the coffee shop, then you go back and play a show and you feel like a badass,” she said.
Even through the virtual format, the enthusiasm for Bridgers and her music was real and tangible.
“We were really happy that we got to have Phoebe here because we know that she’s an artist that so many Whitman students love and are enthusiastic about,” Gazeley said.
Learn more about Phoebe Bridgers at https://phoebefuckingbridgers.com/. Her music can be found on all streaming platforms.