Despite the post-World Cup commiserations, joy filled the air at Gunnersbury Park on Sunday 20th August as another event took centre-stage in queer women’s calendars – Boygenius’ debut UK performance. The musical trio – comprised of Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus and BRICKS cover star Phoebe Bridgers, affectionately known as “the boys” – performed a sell-out show to a crowd adorned with enough Dr Martens, cowboy boots and rainbow earrings to fill a Pride parade.
Huddled around a single microphone in graceful harmony, the trio kicked off their tear-jerking catalogue with a crimson-tinged performance of the record’s opening track ‘Without You Without Them’. The band performed off-stage, allowing only their voices to stun the audience to silence. The poetic opener was the perfect signpost for what was to come – a vocally flawless, two-hour emotional rollercoaster charting the highs and lows of intense love affairs, bittersweet friendships and unadulterated queer euphoria.
The poetic opener was the perfect signpost for what was to come – a vocally flawless, two-hour emotional rollercoaster charting the highs and lows of intense love affairs, bittersweet friendships and unadulterated queer euphoria.
The steadfast devotion between Boygenius and their fans is immeasurable. It inspires bellowing screams to guitar-thrashing hits ‘$20’ and ‘Not Strong Enough’ to a paradoxical, respectful attentiveness for some of the group’s emotional heavy-hitters. I say devotion between, specifically, as this enthusiasm is in no way one-sided, with the band unabashedly throwing themselves across the stage and addressing fan’s signs, outfits and chants throughout their performance, unable to contain their blatant joy performing together.
As well as the heavily-praised tracks from the trio’s latest album, the record, the supergroup performed every song from their self-titled EP alongside unreleased demo ‘Boyfriend’ which they jokingly dedicated to the boyfriends (and hopeful-boyfriends) listening in the crowd.
Despite the audience’s exuberance, the show included a spectacular performance of ‘Letter To An Old Poet’ – upon Phoebe’s personal request that the song was too hard-hitting to be filmed on smartphones, spectators listened in stunned silence. The track’s visceral lyrics touch upon a relationship plagued with power imbalance, “And I love you / I don’t know why / I just do / But / You’re not special you’re evil / You don’t get to tell me to calm down / You made me feel like an equal / But I’m better than you and you should know that by now.”
It was a rare yet welcome moment of tranquillity on a packed day that saw Derry-born SOAK, American rising starEthel Cain and Bridgers’ Sad Factory Record label-backed MUNA perform in back-to-back sets. Gunnersbury Park was transformed into a mini-festival that could best be described as a utopia for bisexuals, with enough vegan chicken stands, carbon-negative beers and Liquid Death to supply over 25,000-strong cavalry of fans.
The band’s all-queer lineup is famous for collaborating, both on record and live on stage, and enjoy playing with their platonic friendships and rumoured romances much to fans’ delight, celebrating love in all forms and attracting an inclusive mix of attendees from pregnant bellies, young children with their queer parents and even one fan who brought their grandmother’s ashes along for the ride, because even Granny “loved the boys.”
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