Bleachers, along with opener Bishop Briggs, gave an emotional rollercoaster of a concert.
Watching Bishop Briggs literally run back and forth across the stage, as if she had just realized she needed to get ready for a marathon, gave me an energy at the start of the Bleachers concert I didn’t initially have.
Bishop Briggs, the stage name of Sarah Grace McLaughlin, was the only opener for the concert, coming out to Kanye West’s “Power.” Almost immediately, she came across as shy, excited and awkward, with fidgety hand movements, pacing the stage. This both detracted and added to the fun of her set; sometimes I just wanted her to stop moving and chill out, but other times it built up the crowd.
McLaughlin started off the set with her single “Wild Horses,” and ended with possibly her best-known work, “River.” The bass of her songs was amazing, and hit hard, along with the electronic beats produced by other parts of her band.
During her set, McLaughlin didn’t talk to the audience much, going from one song to another, but stopped at one point to tell a story about how at one show, Jack Antonoff, the singer from Bleachers, had attended and told her she’d inspired him to write. Her wonderment at her current position was sincere and endearing. Her show was deafening, which made Bleachers, by contrast, seem quieter, which was honestly a good thing. At the start of her set, and at a few other points during it, the background of the band drowned out her voice, and I had trouble hearing the lyrics.
After an agonizingly long wait, Antonoff started the show off with “Dream of Mickey Mantle,” appearing in the middle back of the stage, in his outfit featured on the album cover of “Gone Now.” Unfortunately, with how tucked away he was, I only saw the tip of the hat, and instead saw his blue-jean vest t-shirt look for the remainder of the concert.
The concert spanned both their albums, playing “Shadow,” “Wild Heart” and “Hate That You Know Me,” among others. Having two drummers was a unique set-up, but I’m not sure I really noticed a difference. What did stand out, however, was the saxophonist, who played two different types of saxophones, along with the keyboard. A saxophone, to me, sounds amazing, in any context, so I was excited to see and hear it on stage.
In about the middle of the show, the energy dipped for a moment. From the high of “Rollercoaster,” the band slipped into a cover of Tom Petty’s “American Girl.” Their cover was more solemn and slow than the original, making it a little unrecognizable at first to me, but it was a nice homage to the late artist. They then slid into another cover, from Antonoff’s band Fun., “Carry On.”
To bring the energy back, they played “You’re Such a Mystery.” During a low point in the song, he introduced each band member, letting them showcase their talents, and sometimes, acrobatic skills. All were great, although the saxophonist, Evan Smith, perhaps was my favorite, simply for his instrument. After their introductions, Antonoff engaged in a sort of of “battle of the bands” with Smith. Antonoff would play a few chords and then let Smith respond, much to the amusement of the audience.
After the battle finished, Antonoff had Smith play his signature instrument, and launched into potentially their best known song, “Rollercoaster.” The song, which he said was intended to bring people together, was played with rambunctious abandon. From there, he ended the set with “Don’t Take the Money,” from “Gone Now.” To the disappointment of many fans, that’s how the show ended. While people clamored for an encore, what they got instead was a crewmember dissembling the pieces of equipment.
With every song, Antonoff seemed to lay his soul bare on the stage. And while I appreciated the energy and beat, the music began to bear the same theme of a melancholy reflection on life and love. Somehow during the concert, the music didn’t bring me down, but without Antonoff’s energy in front of you, the band’s music becomes a bit more moody and emotional. For those who have the opportunity to see either act live, I’d recommend it, for the energy and a fun night out. A note of caution: throughout both Bishop Briggs and Bleachers, the lights were frantic, blinding me at times, and at others, flashing enough that I began wondering how often they induced seizures.