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Show Review: Bad Books tug at fans’ heartstrings at sold out show

Crescent Ballroom has never been so hushed as it was on Tuesday evening. Brother Bird and Bad Books visited the Phoenix hot spot for a night of melancholy and comedy gold. 

Brother Bird, the solo project of vocalist Caroline Swon, played a brief set before her mentors took the stage. Her sweet, high voice was the perfect complement to her wistful lyrics. The already crowded room observed in near-total silence, with members of the audience ordering drinks in a whisper so as not to disturb the somber mood.


Bad Books, a supergroup made up of Kevin Devine and Manchester Orchestra vocalist Andy Hull, broke the spell with their entrance, pulling cheers of delight from the fans. Their acoustic intro of “Pyotr” quieted the room once more, with intermittent shouts of “you’re doing a great job!” from the audience.


“I think that’s the first time anyone’s said we’re doing a great job before we’ve started playing,” Devine noted, laughing.

The rest of the night was equal parts heartwrenching and comedic. Devine and Hull have been friends and collaborators for over a decade and their chemistry is evident in their flawless harmonies and onstage banter. One point even found the two attempting to play two different songs in tandem, an experiment that ended in chaos and sidesplitting laughter from the band and the fans.


They brought everyone right back into their emotions, though, with songs like “I Wrote It Down for You” and “Wheel Well” getting everyone swaying and singing quietly. “I Love You, I’m Sorry, Please Help Me, Thank You” adorned many a shirt in the crowd and was one of the best moments of the night.


Bad Books continuously expressed their gratitude for Brother Bird and to the fans who packed the sold out room. They closed the night with “It Never Stops” and “42”, leaving a grateful audience hoping for another Bad Books appearance very soon.

Story and photos by Olivia Khiel