Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus of boygenius are just three buddies hanging out, making music…and selling out shows. Arizona Financial Theatre was literally filled to the ceiling with ardent fans professing their love for the enigmatic trio on Tuesday night and it was a joy to be in the middle of that crowd.
Bartees Strange opened the show with a slow and steady acoustic melody that built up to a powerful full band set. The singer-songwriter’s booming vocals and comforting stage presence garnered him plenty of new fans on top of the attendees who clearly knew every word and hung over the barricade, mesmerized by his performance. “Black Gold” and “Boomer” were clear favorites, but each track demonstrated that Strange was the perfect complementary opener for the vibe of this tour.
The boys were indeed back in town and after that suitable Thin Lizzy intro, the metaphorical curtain rose on a live backstage video feed of the trio harmonizing to perfection on “Without You Without Them”. From there, the night was a hodgepodge of melancholia, uplifting melodies and a fan-driven fervor at a level we haven’t seen in a long while.
It’s possible that far too many people in the audience cheered when Bridgers asked if anyone was a satanist (“I’m spreading rumors about Phoenix”, said Dacus with a grin) but as far as we could tell, that venue would have cheered at anything the trio said. Fans of all genders tossed out marriage proposals between songs and one listener physically tossed paper crowns onstage for the queens to wear during “Souvenir”.
Baker, Bridgers and Dacus are wildly different in their stage personas and individual musical directions, but combining those differences for the music they perform together is a magic all its own. “Me & My Dog” elicited huge cheers and Baker took every opportunity to toss her guitar around while Dacus watched and smiled in appreciation.
After 18 songs, plenty of onstage twirling and three humans clearly having the time of their lives at this huge jam session, the trio returned for a three song encore that celebrated the individual talents of each member. Judging from the tears, smiles and groups of friends wrapped in each other’s arms, boygenius is well into a momentously special career as they create art that moves their listeners and provides a beautifully safe space for everyone attending their shows.
It’s only fitting that we kicked off Pride Month with this spectrum of acceptance and love and we’re ready to welcome these three back to Phoenix with open arms.
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Story and photos by Olivia Khiel