boygenius, the indie supergroup composed of Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker, performed a powerful show for the girls, gays and theys at the Westville Music Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut on Thursday, Sept. 28.
The group, stylized in all lowercase as “boygenius,” formed in 2018 and released a self-titled EP. Five years later, on March 31, 2023, boygenius released their debut studio album “The Record” and have been on tour since April.
While at this point the tour is wrapping up with just one show left — a Halloween show on Oct. 31 at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, California that is destined to be immaculate — on Sept. 25, the group announced “The Rest,” their second EP, which is set to be released on Oct. 13.
Their New Haven show began with the energetic opener, Palehound, and a land acknowledgement. Around 8:30 p.m., the accompanying band ran out on stage, playing “The Boys are Back in Town.” The crowd cheered as the lights dimmed and the center video screen began a livestream of Bridgers, Dacus and Baker standing around a singular microphone backstage. They sang “Without You, Without Them” from backstage, harmonizing beautifully and bringing the house down with their first song of the night, before running out as well and launching into “$20.”
From “$20” boygenius played a few songs straight before acknowledging the audience and introducing themselves — a continuing theme as the concert went on. Throughout the show, there was little time left for banter amongst Bridgers, Dacus and Baker; often, the three played one song into the next. Obviously, this style of performing has both benefits and drawbacks. While the audience got to hear a huge chunk of the boygenius discography live because they did not take time to chat onstage, it also did not feel as much like a concert without watching “the boys” interact in real life.
Still, they played “Satanist,” “Emily I’m Sorry,” “True Blue” and “Cool About It,” all off “The Record.” Then, the trio launched into four songs off their original EP, “Souvenir,” “Bite the Hand,” “Revolution 0” and “Stay Down.”
Of course, the performance of “Bite the Hand” was accompanied with the perhaps infamous “Bite the Hand” fancam. As Dacus opened the song with the lyrics “I can’t hear you, you’re too far away / I can’t see you, the light is in my face / I can’t touch you, I wouldn’t if I could,” the screens on stage played live footage of the screaming crowd. This part of the tour has been widely debated on social media — while some say it’s a direct call out to toxic fan culture, which Dacus and others have confirmed the song is a reference to, others argue it’s a tribute to their fans. As always, reality and truth often lay in shades of gray.
After playing “Leonard Cohen,” the group then without warning launched into one song each from their solo careers: “Please Stay” for Dacus, “Favor” for Baker and “Graceland Too” for Bridgers. As each artist was highlighted, the other two stepped back, giving each other their earned time in the spotlight. It’s clear boygenius is not about jostling each other for the lead; Bridgers, Dacus and Baker so often sing about true friendship, they are immensely supportive of each other.
At this point, Bridgers did briefly address the audience, barely introducing an unreleased song off of “The Rest,” entitled “Voyager.” boygenius, both as a group and individual artists, are known for their gut wrenching lyrics, and this was no exception, including the lines “And there are nights you say you don’t remember (Ooh) / When you stepped on the gas and you asked if I’m ready to die (Ooh) / You thought I’d never leave and I let you believe you were right (Ooh)” and “But I never imagined a dot quite as pale or as blue (Ooh) / You took it from me but I would’ve given it to you (Ooh).” Needless to say, the crowd was in shock at the sneak peak, and fans eagerly await Oct. 13.
Next came “Me and My Dog” and “We’re in Love,” during which Dacus, who is the lead singer of the track, skillfully caught a bouquet of flowers from the audience, relating to the lyrics. Following that, “Anti-Curse” played, featuring an explosive beat and intense vocals from Baker, who wrote the song about a near-drowning experience while at the beach.
Finally, Bridgers took to the mic again to sit on the edge of the stage and ask the audience to put their phones away for “Letters to an Old Poet.” She semi-jokingly but pretty seriously threatened to simply “not like” anyone who kept their phone out during the song. Bridgers ended on the note that she “felt” for anyone who related to the song because “this is hell.” And seemingly, the crowd agreed, screeching the iconic line “You’re not special, you’re evil / You don’t get to tell me to calm down,” louder than previously thought possible.
boygenius closed out their main set with an electric performance of “Not Strong Enough,” complete with numerous video screens of them performing, flashing lights and smoke, before the three of them quickly exited the stage.
But of course, the group came back out for an encore, carrying with them a cake. Dacus asked the crowd to sing a “2x speed” version of “Happy Birthday” to Baker for her twenty-eighth birthday, which just happened to be the next day on Friday, Sept. 29. After the sped-up song, Baker bit into the cake and laughed that she got only a mouthful of frosting.
The rest of the encore included strong renditions of “Ketchum ID” and “Salt in the Wound,” at the end of which Bridgers and Dacus threw the cake into the audience as they closed out the night.
All in all, boygenius at the Westville Music Bowl was a night to remember. Despite being known for often creating “sad girl” music, boygenius’s show proved to instead highlight themes of true friendship, trust and support. With talent to spare, the supergroup is wrapping up an absolute blast of a tour and we’re all dying to hear “The Rest.”