Boygenius’ electrifying return to live music

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      There was no hotter spot to be in Vancouver on Friday evening than the PNE Amphitheatre for the sold-out boygenius show. 

      Illuminati Hotties kicked things off with a stellar performance, and Carly Rae Jepsen got everyone even more hyped, ahead of the headlining supergroup.

      Jepsen, originally from Mission, noted that she was thrilled to be playing a hometown show, and was even more amped given that it fell on the same day as the release of her new album, The Loveliest Time. She played a few newer songs, including the disco-style lead single, “Shy Boy.” Jepsen entranced the crowd with a mix of hits from Emotion and The Loneliest Time, although her 2019 album, Dedicated, had only a single song representing it (“Want You In My Room”).

      Of course, as soon as she introduced the song that started it all, “Call Me Maybe,” the entire crowd knew what was coming. Swathes of fans flooded from the bleachers into the energized front-of-stage crowd, and you could barely hear her over the screams by the time the chorus came along.

      Jepsen finished her set with “Cut to the Feeling”—originally recorded for 2016 animated movie Ballerina, which has since taken on a life of its own. A long-running tumblr meme involves handing the singer a sword during this song, and Vancouver fans didn’t disappoint, as she finished her bumper set holding a foam sword aloft. And with that, the scene was set for the main act.

      Cheers erupted the second that Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus were heard singing “Without You Without Them” from offstage. Members of their all-women backing band burst onto the stage in matching suits to play bass, drums, and keys, before the three superstars emerged to wild screams.  

      To the detriment of anyone needing to speak the next day, everyone was soon screaming along to “$20”, perfectly setting the raucous mood that would continue on through the majority of the performance. 

      via @xboygeniusx on Instagram

      On the other hand, for Dacus’ “Please Stay”, the crowd was silent, soaking in her harmonious vocals. She also seemed to have recovered from the concussion she’d been dealing with on a previous leg of the tour—no longer playing in sunglasses and propped up on a sofa, and instead joining the rest of the band in various antics.


      via @xboygeniusx on Instagram

      Before launching into “Boyfriends,” Bridgers asked if there were any nervous boyfriends in the crowd, smiling and waving back at the few souls brave enough to raise their hands. Looking over the crowd, there was an incredible cross-section of people visible: TikTok fashionistas, grunge kids, gaggles of friends, older queer couples, and yes, even a few middle-aged straight dudes here to experience the power of rock.

      The dedication of boygenius’ fanbase was on full display under the hot July sun, with the band’s iconic metal-tinged t-shirts selling out before the second opening act had even begun. A few of those lucky enough to snag that merch were using their spare shirts as makeshift hats to keep off the heat (and a few fans did have to be helped out of the pit by paramedics).

      via @xboygeniusx on Instagram

      (Also, did anyone else notice how many instruments Baker was playing? Besides her many guitars, she also wielded a banjo, effortlessly swapping between different sounds as the setlist strided on.)

      “Not Strong Enough” evoked one of the strongest reactions, with everyone chanting the line “always an angel, never a god,” extra loudly, as they bounced up and down to the beat.

      At the end of the show, Dacus donned a lesbian Pride flag as a cape, and all three singers threw flowers into the audience.

      To everyone’s delight (and after much cheering), boygenius came back on stage for an encore of “Ketchum, ID” and “Salt in the Wound.” And then the party continued elsewhere, with seemingly the entire crowd heading to McDonald’s.