Phoebe Bridgers played her entire album at White Oak Music Hall.EXPAND
Phoebe Bridgers played her entire album at White Oak Music Hall.
Photo by Daniel Jackson

Phoebe Bridgers Plays Her Heart Out To a Chatty Houston Crowd

Whenever you go to see an artist perform, you should be on your best behavior. Whenever bands skip Houston while on tour, and people here ask why, I can point to this show last night as one of the biggest examples. The show, upstairs at White Oak Music Hall, was from Nashville's Soccer Mommy and L.A.'s Phoebe Bridgers, and it was pretty painful to attend. While Soccer Mommy and Bridgers both dropped admirable sets, the crowd, housed in a space a little bigger than most upper middle-class homes' living rooms, was easily one of the most disrespectful I've seen at a show in years. You may think I'm making this up, but I wanted to do something different for this show review, so I got photographer Derek Rathbun in to both this show and the performance in L.A. about a week ago, and he felt the exact same way about the Houston crowd compared to the one in California.

Soccer Mommy played a solid set full of tracks from her catalog.
Soccer Mommy played a solid set full of tracks from her catalog.
Photo by Derek Rathbun

Soccer Mommy walked out to what seemed like an enthusiastic crowd, and perhaps many of them were just that. However, for most of their set, the audience seemed to talk from start to finish. The Nashville group is a pretty loud indie rock band, so the fact that you could hear chatting throughout their set was pretty infuriating.

Soccer Mommy dropped a stellar performance, despite the rudeness of attendees.
Soccer Mommy dropped a stellar performance, despite the rudeness of attendees.
Photo by Derek Rathbun

The worst part of the set was what seemed to be a group who felt that it was their duty to respond to everything singer Sophie Allison said. Stupid and ridiculous replies like "what's the name of the song," were annoying and flat out rude to say at any show, especially one in a space as small as the upstairs of White Oak Music Hall.

Phoebe Bridgers started strong and ended strong.EXPAND
Phoebe Bridgers started strong and ended strong.
Photo by Derek Rathbun

When Bridgers took the stage she seemed to be in a great mood, full of jokes and began with a sample from the drummer that played "you're not my fucking mother," before opening with a soulful rendition of "Smoke Signals." Things seemed to go smoothly, with the song feeling a bit more uptempo than on the record. When the lyric "speeding cause' fuck the cops," came in the crowd cheered out loud. She followed up with the sweet and endearing track "Funeral," where a quieter crowd would have made the experience a lovely one.

Phoebe Bridgers played a chilling rendition of a Daniel Johnston song.EXPAND
Phoebe Bridgers played a chilling rendition of a Daniel Johnston song.
Photo by Daniel Jackson

However, that wouldn't be the case, as there was more than twenty percent of the audience talking loudly enough to where it felt like Bridgers' tender voice was mere background music. Explaining afterward that the next song would be "kind of folk core," she launched into a nice version of "Georgia," and then followed that up with the song "Would You Rather." Both songs came off sounding pretty amazing with the full band in tow, however Rathbun noted that Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst sang "Would You Rather" with Bridgers at the L.A. show, just like he does on the album. While that didn't occur here, Bridgers did start up the song "Chelsea" before having to stop due to some electrical issue with the venue's stage. After re-starting the song, it hit with grace and precision in a way that it doesn't on the album.

Phoebe Bridgers played a gorgeous set that was beautiful throughout.
Phoebe Bridgers played a gorgeous set that was beautiful throughout.
Photo by Derek Rathbun

After that, she said, "this next song is about sexting, which you're supposed to tell people not to do. But I'm for sexting, you can put that on a shirt," then started up the song "Demi Moore." This was followed up by a tender version of the song "Killer," where the audience chatter seemed to start back up. In such a small room, during such a sweet and soft song, it was nearly ruined by the conversations happening throughout the space. Bridgers then played an older track, "Ask Me To" solo on her acoustic, before grabbing her electric baritone and playing a solo cover of the Daniel Johnston classic, "Peek A Boo."

Phoebe Bridgers endured a rude crowd during her lovely performance.
Phoebe Bridgers endured a rude crowd during her lovely performance.
Photo by Derek Rathbun

While introducing the fan favorite "Motion Sickness" with the full band back on stage, Bridgers noted, "this song is about when I was twenty, I slept with someone on their fortieth birthday." The song had a new heft to it, with more of a rock vibe than the pop structure it has on Stranger in the Alps. She then introduced the band including "my talented ex-boyfriend drummer," and then asked everyone to "give it up for my favorite fucking band, Soccer Mommy," before closing with the song "Scott Street."  As confetti went off and adorned the audience, it felt like Bridgers had finally won everyone over, before leaving and coming back to play an encore performance of "You Missed My Heart."

Soccer Mommy wows the sold out show at The Observatory in Los Angeles.
Soccer Mommy wows the sold out show at The Observatory in Los Angeles.
Photo by Derek Rathbun

When I asked Rathbun what the biggest difference between the Los Angeles show and the Houston show was, he said that the lights were darker in L.A., and that the crowd was almost silent the entire time for both performances. He remarked that while the Houston show had a decent sized attendance at over two hundred people, the L.A. show was sold out, and that there were only two people talking at The Observatory, where it felt like everyone was talking here in Houston.

Sophie Allison of Soccer Mommy greets fans after a killer performance.
Sophie Allison of Soccer Mommy greets fans after a killer performance.
Photo by Derek Rathbun

While both performers were incredibly kind after the performance, after the room cleared and they'd met with fans and signed things, it really sucked to have to apologize for how people act at shows in this town. In a city this size, you'd think two hundred people could shut up for two hours of incredible music.

Phoebe Bridgers after her amazing performance in Houston.
Phoebe Bridgers after her amazing performance in Houston.
Photo by Derek Rathbun

Both acts were gracious and generous to the audience throughout their performances, showing how they're top notch and classy enough to try and overlook those the chatter in the crowd. But if either never came back to Houston, at least now you'll know why. It's not because it's the South, or the venues don't pay enough, it's because we're too self-centered as audience members to let an artist entertain us.

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