Emotional, complex, versatile, haunting, and mesmerizing – Phoebe Bridgers on SNL was all of that and more.
A Sketch Comedy Debut Done Right
Los Angeles native and breakout star of 2020, Phoebe Bridgers visited studio 8H last night and it was everything.
Saturday Night Live returned last week with Machine Gun Kelly as the musical guest. This week, Bridgers followed him up with an equally as evocative set of late night performances. It ended up being a night of eclectic orchestration and talents on full display. In all the best ways, Phoebe Bridgers on SNL ended up being the musical mixture of Billie Eilish and Debbie Harry.
Schitt’s Creek’s Dan Levy hosted the show with the “Kyoto” singer as the musical guest. Earlier in the week the pair filmed promos together alongside cast member Aidy Bryant. In one of their clips, Levy asks Bridgers to write a song about him for the show. Phoebe Bridgers, in all her sarcastic glory, rejects the idea. (Her personality, comedy, and even songwriting style is heavily based in quick, dry humor.)
Bridgers has been mixing indie rock and folk music with hints of early 2000’s emo songwriting for years. Over the course of the last two, though, she rose to prominence for it. Now a Grammy nominee whose fans range from angsty teens to Fiona Apple, Bridgers can finally show everyone her talent. Two songs on SNL is a remarkable feat, but just the start for this star.
(Earlier this year, Apple spoke fondly about Bridgers to Nylon. “Her voice is pure prettiness, smooth and soaring, but I can hear within its tone that she’s tough.”)
Phoebe Bridgers On ‘SNL’ Brings Indie and Intimacy Back to Late Night
The singer-songwriter started out the night wearing a skeleton ensemble and singing her hit, “Kyoto.” Her band were decked out as skeletons, too, drawing home the idea of connecting with music on a deeper level. (And also paying homage to the song’s original music video.) Between the black and white outfit and the haunting track, the performance was truly soul-stirring.
By the second poignant verse, Bridgers and her band got into the song’s groove on the national stage. “You called me from a payphone, they still got payphones? It cost a dollar a minute to tell me you’re getting sober and you wrote me a letter, but I don’t have to read it.” Lyrically, Bridgers is an authentic, emotive storyteller. Musically, she is able to use her voice and musical talents to share these stories with the world.
“Kyoto” showcased everything from Bridgers’ high-pitched, breathy vocals at the beginning of the song to roaring belts at the end. “
The second set allowed Phoebe Bridgers on SNL to open up with the audience even more. It featured a gradually building tempo and an even poppier sound than the equally as beautiful and relatable “Kyoto.” She brought “I Know The End” to life while decked out in a whimsical, beaded skeleton dress, the star looked and sounded otherworldly. All together, this take on “ was ethereal, even during its overly grand finale.
“I Know The End“ showed Bridgers destroying her guitar – literally and figuratively. The guitarist was gentle with her electric guitar during the performance, but then smashed it right after. Alongside gritty screams, she hauled her guitar onto a stage amp in angst and intensity. Her robust band of musicians looked on in amusement much like fans. There was passion in her performance, excitement throughout the night, and rage in the conclusions.
Her guitar skills were on full display, sounding slick and sweet. There was a strong nineties vibe in her sound and overall presence. Bridgers’ band included everything from violinists to trumpters only added to the ambiance. Her relaxed, low energy approach allowed SNL fans to connect with her music and the feelings within it. Phoebe Bridgers – dry humor, skeleton references, and all – is a stellar storyteller and an emotive performer. Her Saturday Night Live debut showed that to the world.