June 18, 2023

boygenius played Forest Hills Stadium

boygenius were in top form as they headlined Forest Hills Stadium to a crowd of adoring fans on day 2 of Re:SET in NYC.

The weather was on edge all day and after a brief sunshower during Clairo's opening set, the skies cleared for boygenius, the unquestionable main act of the weekend during Re:SET's stint in New York City. Playing like the refined Crosby, Stills and Nash of the new generation, Phoebe's star power, Lucy's knack for hooks, and Julien's unfiltered scream and guitar prowess meld together creating one of the most dynamic acts in rock, one that certifies each of them as torchbearers for the future of the genre and beyond. Gathering backstage, the trio gathered around a single microphone to set the tone of the night with their acapella opening of "Without You Without Them," the song that also opens their debut full-length, one of the year's best records. Through breathtaking harmonies, they quickly had the crowd hanging on each lyric and as soon as they crescendoed and hit the mark for the set to kick off, the audience erupted with a deafening cheer as they all ran onstage to join their backing band and blast off into "$20." With Julien Baker front and center, they crushed the opening with unapologetic force that continued to affirm their no bullshit tone as the crowd further wrapped themselves in the hype for one of the most beloved bands of the moment. Continuing the trend of their most rocking songs, they immediately went into "Satanist," another major guitar track that gave everyone a change to headbang along and scream to their killer vocals as huge riffs carried the song into the stratosphere. As they took turns with their various verses, the crowd continuously obsessed over each singer, each almost getting a bigger response than the one prior. Phoebe took control for the lilting ballad "Emily I'm Sorry" that somehow kept the energy at its maximum potential despite the somber subject matter and as soon as she passed it over to Lucy Dacus for "True Blue" it was clear that there was no crowd favorite, but rather individual love for each singer on stage that would manifest in their own brilliant ways. "Cool About It" was a reserved number during which you could hear a pin drop as the packed stadium lingered on every word and gave the band the space to allow their vocals to shine with unbridled passion and euphoric opulence. Throughout the night, the love on stage felt ever apparent and witnessing the three of them have the time of their lives onstage while an adoring crowd radiated positivity right back at them was an overwhelming experience that brought out the best emotions and triggered tears of absolute joy that were at times nearly too much to handle. "Souvenir" was a great throwback to their first EP and gave the first dose of nostalgia for the evening and segued wonderfully into "Bite the Hand" which again received a massive singalong before the minimal finger-picking of "Revolution O" set in and gave Phoebe another epic moment in the spotlight. A little past the half-way mark, each member busted out a solo track, changing up the set list for the first time on this tour, each of which was clearly heightened with the other two band members on backing vocals and watching them encourage each other on with unprecedented love and admiration was a real moment of pride. Throughout the show, it was clear just how much the three members of the group love one another and look to each other for inspiration. The joy and nirvana they express onstage is infectious and if you weren't grinning from ear to ear or weeping tears of unfiltered happiness, you were clearly missing the point. "We've never played this one" Lucy said, the most vocal of the trio between tracks before informing everyone that "this one if for all the boyfriends." The song, aptly titled "Boyfriend" didn't make the album, but felt perfectly inline with the themes of the night and was a special way to celebrate the massive show. "Me & My Dog" followed and as the group hit the lyric "I wanna be emaciated" the stadium erupted with the biggest chant of the night, the lyric echoing back like a tidal wave as the 13,000 people in attendance belted it out from deep within their individual souls. "Were any of you at the Brooklyn Steel show in 2018?" Lucy asked at one point (I was!). "We're in group therapy together and each of us answered on our own how that was our personal favorite show" which sent a ripple of applause through the crowd and made their return to New York feel all the more special. For "Letter to an Old Poet," Phoebe climbed to the barricade at the front of the stage to deliver even more heartbreaking lyrics will Julien and Lucy supported from the stage and as they hit the line "I wanna be... happy" the shift in feeling from the crowd was universal and the unwavering feelings of elation blanketed everyone in the building. To close out the main set, "Not Strong Enough" brought the house down as the call and response of "always and angel, never a god" bounced from one end of the amphitheater to the other, once again highlighting the extreme joy felt throughout. For the encore, they returned for a stunning "Ketchum, ID" which found Lucy and Julien sitting on the barricade to sing along together while Phoebe strummed elegantly on stage before the crowd took over and brought the song to a resounding finish. To close it all out, they launched into a killer "Salt in the Wound" and as Julien ripped a sensational solo, Lucy and Phoebe collapsed into one another and rolled around the stage kissing before indulging in the Wayne's World bow to Julien and tackling her with kisses as well, the pure sense of enjoyment and excitement once again pouring over the crowd as queer joy exploded in the moment with undying passions. To witness such a pleasurable experience is rare, but boygenius are the beacon of hope for what live music played with your best friends can encapsulate and how it can resonate with a group of devoted fans. To be able to be present for their own favorite show is an absolute honor, but to see them keep the dream alive, play their longest show to date, and continue to have so much fun together on stage is something I hope to be able to attend for years and years to come.

Set list:

01 "Without You Without Them"
02 "$20"
03 "Satanist"
04 "Emily I'm Sorry"
05 "True Blue"
06 "Cool About It"
07 "Souvenir"
08 "Bite the Hand"
09 "Revolution 0"
10 "Stay Down"
11 "Leonard Cohen"
12 "Please Stay" [Lucy Dacus song]
13 "Favor" [Julien Baker song]
14 "Graceland Too" [Phoebe Bridgers song]
15 "Boyfriend" [live debut]
16 "Me & My Dog"
17 "We're in Love"
18 "Anti‐Curse"
19 "Letter to an Old Poet"
20 "Not Strong Enough"
21 "Ketchum, ID"
22 "Salt in the Wound"

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