In a February 6 episode of Saturday Night Live, renowned Schitts Creek host Dan Levy invited indie rock artist Phoebe Bridgers to perform the latest issue of his recent album, I Know the End. The camera panned and the lights dimmed, leaving a red spotlight on the singer-songwriter and reflecting the cover of his Grammy-nominated quadruple album, 2020s Punisher.
Earlier that night, she performed her hit song Kyoto from that same album, wearing it iconic skeleton onesie alongside her group mates. For I Know the End, Bridgers was dressed in a gorgeous beaded rib cage piece. The harness and her platinum blonde hair reflecting red light created an ethereal setting for what would become one of the most impressive and memorable SNL musical performances in recent memory.
Two-thirds of the way through the performance, Bridgers and fellow musician Harrison Whitford, both on guitar, synchronized in an electric duet, marking the song’s evolution into mesmerizing chaos. Bridgers then yelled into the mic, the audience clapping and the trumpets blaring, and appropriately in the grand finale, smashed a Danelectro guitar into a fake sound monitor. Every moment of the song had built up to this point, where expectations were literally sparking up. In the end, it wasn’t the guitar or the monitor that caught fire, but the Internet.
Bridgers, 26, is an artist born and raised in Los Angeles who made her first big mark when she released her debut studio album, 2017s Stranger in the Alps. His second album Punisher once again proved Bridgers’ talent and artistry. Bridgers songs are captivating and raw, exploring trauma in a way one might be too hesitant to explore on his own. In a recent interview with MTV News correspondent Dometi Pongo, Bridgers mentionned, I feel like if I weren’t writing about personal stuff, I would be depriving myself of the experience of speaking with fans with mirrored experiences.
Bridgers’ performance on SNL was breathtaking, even beyond visual and aural levels, yet another example of how his music tackles such complex life truths and how Bridgers effortlessly elicits a emotional response from its audience. Still, some viewers didn’t see his performance that way.
A bystander stoke a fire on Twitter after writing Why did this woman, Phoebe Bridgers, destroy her guitar on SNL? I mean, I didn’t care much about the song either, but it sounded awesome.
However, it was David Crosby, co-founder of The Byrds and a third of the folk trio Crosby, Stills & Nash, who injected the most visible criticism of Bridgers’ performance. When requested by a fan on Twitter what he thought of his smashing guitar, he wrote Pathetic, to which Bridgers simply replied little bitch.
Many supporters have come to Bridgers ‘defense, mocking the unnecessary controversy and echoing Bridgers’ witty and direct internet presence. Foo Fighters founder and former Nirvana drummer David Grohl offered his support to Bridgers, claiming his days at Nirvana were filled with drums with holes in it: It was every fucking night, he told The Howard Stern Show, on Instagram, Bridgers mentionned I had very good feedback on my performance! next time I will burn it and it will be more expensive.
Although Crosby later explained that he condemned any guitar clash, this controversy draws attention to the double standard for artists who identify women. Crosby was he actually concerned with the preservation of guitars, as they are for making music, not foolishly denigrating them on a fake monitor for some childish stage drama, or was he disturbed by a female rock artist joining in the fun expectations and devious, as others have done claims?
There is clearly a double standard for women to perform cleanly and to the service and comfort of men, which is obvious. But, the criticism Bridgers received for doing a popular rock show tactic also shows how society infantilizes and restricts women’s artistic freedom.
Rock and roll is a genre often defined by the aesthetic of excess, high volumes and downbeats. If rock and roll had a rule, it probably wouldn’t be. Obviously, the internal criticism of Bridgers’ performance goes beyond concern for wasting materials like a useless guitar and sound monitor, but to covert misogyny and infantilization, seeing women as objects of their own. control and treat. In the music industry, women are treated as lacking in a sort of knowledge that male artists inherently possess.
Was Bridgers really immature or did she flaunt her genius? It can be easy to write Bridgers’ music as too sad and cynical, but what comes with his diligent elaboration of every lyric, chord progression, and songwriting is a complex take on the human condition.
In her performance of I Know the End, Bridgers invites us into liminal space of a post-death, non-reality state (see: ghost costumes, skeleton patterns, and her description of her music as dumb death). The crash of the guitar represents a subsequent return to the visceral sadness of the realities of life in a raging uproar. This duality is best exemplified by the tender hug Bridgers shared with his bassist, Emily Retsas, seconds after Bridgers’ intense guitar smash. Maybe there is no line between dreams and reality, between life and death, between love and loss. With this dissection, it’s hard to name even a few artists willing to explore these heartbreaking truisms as Bridgers seems to naturally do that our existence is inevitably painful and angry, joyous and beautiful.
And so, the controversy over a broken guitar just died. As an abstract artist Ad Reinhart Put the in his book Art as Art, art is art-as-art and everything else is everything, art is not what art is not. If this is the case, that art can be imagined, created and consumed in spaces of freedom and resistance, and not in spaces of comfort for the elderly. And as it should be, Bridgers had the final say on it, writing on Twitter I can’t believe I’m the very first woman.
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