Phoebe Bridgers stage dives at Outside Lands set

As Phoebe Bridgers reached the serene chorus of “Moon Song” in front of an audience of thousands at San Francisco’s Outside Lands, it slowly began to drizzle, enveloping the musician in a mist that swirled around the stage while she sang about self-sabotaging love .

“I will wait for the next time you want me, like a dog with a bird at your door,” she crooned, softly grinning to herself as if holding in a secret she wouldn’t let anyone else in on.

It was the perfect touch for the Grammy nominated singer-songwriter’s melancholy set after uncharacteristically sunny and warm weather persisted throughout much of the first day of the festival. It was also a stark contrast to her band’s first moments on the Twin Peaks stage, when they walked out to the heavy riffs of Disturbed’s “Down with the Sickness.” Flames covered the screen, accompanied by her name, which had the agitated scrawl of a metalcore logo.


These joyful contradictions are part of the reason why Bridgers has developed such a steadfast cult following. Amassing thousands of mostly millennial fans since the release of her 2017 album, “Stranger in the Alps,” she’s adored just as much for her sardonic Internet humor as she is for her candid songwriting. To go to one of her shows is akin to opening someone else’s diary you’re not supposed to read as she weaves through topics of intimacy, mortality and nostalgia. She dissects nightmares, petty arguments and fizzled-out relationships with the casual cadence of someone you just met on a road trip, where deeply personal conversations bloom in a way they wouldn’t anywhere else.

“I’ve always wanted to play here. It’s been a dream of mine,” Bridgers told the crowd. “I’ve been going to festivals here since I was a kid, so this is pretty special… My grandpa is here.”

Fans sing along as Phoebe Bridgers performs at Outside Lands in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, Calif. on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022.

Adam Pardee/Special to SFGATE

As she powered through her latest record, “Punisher,” her breezy banter seemed to provide a break of dark comic relief between lovesick acoustic ballads and hushed pop melodies, altogether bleak and dreamlike with a touch of country-folk earnestness. (“This is about the time that I cried in a grocery store parking lot,” she deadpanned.) It seemed fitting that she asked for a tissue after playing the graceful and goosebump-inducing “Garden Song.”

“Who has the sniffles right now?” she asked before abruptly shifting gears to transition into her next song. “Who has a complex relationship with their father? That’s cool.”

Phoebe Bridgers performs at Outside Lands in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, Calif.  on Friday, Aug.  5, 2022.

Phoebe Bridgers performs at Outside Lands in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, Calif. on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022.

Adam Pardee/Special to SFGATE

She also addressed the surreal reality of returning to her home state after touring across Europe over the summer. Bridgers was performing at Glastonbury Festival when she learned about the Supreme Court’s decision to repeal Roe v. Wade in June.

“I feel like America is so romanticized, it’s insane,” she said. “Um, I don’t know. It’s nice to have a good time while we watch the world burn around us. There’s a really cool abortion fund if you have some dough. It’s called the Mariposa Fund, they work with a lot of undocumented people and I think that’s really cool, and they’re doing great work”.

Phoebe Bridgers performs at Outside Lands in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, Calif.  on Friday, Aug.  5, 2022.

Phoebe Bridgers performs at Outside Lands in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, Calif. on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022.

Adam Pardee/Special to SFGATE

And of course, Bridgers made a point to acknowledge the elephant in the room – that is, the difficulty of having to perform during the same time slot as R&B legend SZA, who was playing on the Lands End stage across the festival grounds.

“The only bummer is missing SZA. The biggest bummer,” Bridgers said. “But next time I guess… Phoebe-SZA collab?”

Among one of the most memorable moments during the set was when a fan waved a sign reading, “It’s my birthday, let me sing ‘Scott Street,’” one of the standout tracks from “Stranger in the Alps” that catapulted Bridgers to fame . Not one to disappoint, the musician handed over the mic at the end of the song to let a couple of people sing the line, “Anyway, don’t leave a stranger,” as she hopped off the stage to dash through the crowd, touching everyone’s hands over the metal barrier.

Also impressive was the elaborate backdrop to the stage. Made to resemble a pop-up storybook, it transformed from song to song, going from fairytale greenery and stained glass windows to UFOS and glimmering galactic skies with shooting stars exploding on the horizon. The final image depicted an abandoned house in flames as she kicked off “I Know The End,” the song that culminates in a ceremonial battle cry and once accompanied her now-famous guitar smash stunt on “Saturday Night Live.”

On Friday night, however, she opted for a stage-dive, buoyed by her fans as she hovered over the crowd. As I looked around, I noticed several people around me crying, swaying and making out. “This is the song that got me through last year,” one guy emphatically disclosed to his friend. No further explanation was needed.

It’s Phoebe Bridgers’ world and we were lucky to be in it, if only for a night.

Phoebe Bridgers performs at Outside Lands in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, Calif.  on Friday, Aug.  5, 2022.

Phoebe Bridgers performs at Outside Lands in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, Calif. on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022.

Adam Pardee/Special to SFGATE

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