Live Review

boygenius, Gunnersbury Park, London: a hedonistic whirlwind of empathetic tears and unrivalled joy

20th August 2023

The trio sit atop a rising spring of pure self-acceptance; powerful yet vulnerable and immeasurably relatable.

Today is for the othered. Even among ever-cool Phoebe Bridgers’ ascent to becoming A-list adjacent, boygenius have quickly corralled a subtle queer army. “Who here is gay?” openly-out Julien Baker asks triumphantly to the crowd during one of the trio’s characteristically candid moments, unsurprisingly met by a rapturous scream. It’s an energy befitting the threesome of LGBTQ powerhouses that precede the main event, with Gunnersbury Park hosting what can only be described as the UK’s biggest unofficial alternative Pride. The emotional connection follows suit, from a sudden swathe of fainting that can only be put down to the all-encompassing excitement bubbling across the 25,000-strong London crowd to a hedonistic whirlwind of empathetic tears and unrivalled joy that pulls this exceptional, largely female-led community together. From Soak’s understated folk through Ethel Cain’s stunning gothic imagery and MUNA’s jubilant self-expressive party, boygenius sit atop a rising spring of pure self-acceptance; powerful yet vulnerable and immeasurably relatable.

boygenius, Gunnersbury Park, London boygenius, Gunnersbury Park, London boygenius, Gunnersbury Park, London
boygenius, Gunnersbury Park, London boygenius, Gunnersbury Park, London boygenius, Gunnersbury Park, London boygenius, Gunnersbury Park, London

It's embodied in the lyrics that underpin all of today’s maestros. “God loves you, but not enough to save you,” slurs Ethel Cain on her self-declared favourite, ‘Sun Bleached Flies’. MUNA inject their typical sad-party spirit into euphoric-yet-brittle gay affirmations on ‘What I Want’ and ‘I Know A Place’, and the crowd chant back in unison as Phoebe Bridgers declares “I’m 27 and don’t know who I am” on ‘Emily I’m Sorry’. But even among this candid uncertainty, on stage each beam with a confidence only found through shared experience, rising to a thunderous crescendo that lights West London in fireworks as Lucy Dacus snogs every member of both her band and MUNA. It’s an echo of supporting set closer ‘Silk Chiffon’, which sees Phoebe reversely join MUNA – quickly followed by Lucy and Julien - for what has rapidly grown into an empowering anthem.

Among all the excitement, that the quality of the performance moves towards irrelevant is telling, but with such skill on display it’s no surprise that each lands note-perfectly. boygenius themselves share the limelight in much the same way as their only full-length to date, ‘the record’, and even with Phoebe inarguably the most prominent of the three, there’s no ego on show. Each take lead on their respective tracks, and the headline set opts for three of their solo numbers in quick succession. As represented in the faces of those staring back, it’s an unequivocal testament to the careful balance between collective power and the importance of the individual. If anything, that’s today’s biggest takeaway; that it’s possible to be fully yourself and to be part of something bigger, and that ultimately, we are all better for both.

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Tags: Boygenius, Ethel Cain, Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus, MUNA, Phoebe Bridgers, Soak, Reviews, Live Reviews

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