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Boygenius in Dublin: Full-on rock-star performances from Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker

At Royal Hospital Kilmainham on Monday night, the crowd’s excitement tips into a pinch-yourself giddiness


Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin

Boygenius arrive on stage to the strains of The Boys Are Back in Town, Phil Lynott’s tender-tough celebration of male comradeship and musical swagger. Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers have plenty of swagger of their own. But it is mixed with a vulnerability and emotional honesty that mark the indie-pop triple alliance as a different sort of supergroup.

It’s a different sort of audience, too. Speaking before this exultant and breathtakingly heartwarming concert, the band theorise that, for many of their Gen Z (and younger) fans, a Boygenius gig is their first rock show.

They may be on to something: at Kilmainham the crowd’s excitement tips into a pinch-yourself giddiness as molten guitar solos and homespun harmonies are accompanied by stage dives and, in a dramatic finale, writhing on the floor by the trio. If there is a way back for rock in an era dominated by pop, then this is how it will be redeemed. By music that brims with intensity while rejecting the old machismo.

Boygenius’s individual members have a background in alternative rock. Bridgers also has a reluctant toe in the celebrity world because of her former relationship with the Irish Oscar nominee Paul Mescal. But, working together, they genuinely adore the idea of being an old-school rock band. The sleeve of their debut EP saw them emulate the pose Crosby Stills and Nash struck on their first record. And they dressed up as Nirvana for a recent Rolling Stone cover.


Along with the rock-star trappings, which are topped off with matching grey Thom Browne suits, their songs are legitimately great. Satanist draws on Baker’s evangelical upbringing in Tennessee. It’s a fine showcase for her tenderly vitriolic vocals and Bridgers and Dacus’s seismic guitar playing. The spotlight switches to Bridgers for Emily I’m Sorry, a plaintive highlight from their 2023 LP, The Record. Its gentle melody contrasts with nightmarish imagery as Bridgers howls “Headed straight for the concrete / In a nightmare, screaming.”

They never stop reminding the audience that a rock show is supposed to be fun. During Me and My Dog, Boygenius encourage fans to share photos of their dogs. Hurrah for the outlier who flashes a picture of a cat. Bridgers then asks that everyone put away their phone for the intimate Letter to An Old Poet, a tumultuous dirge that circles a doomed relationship.

Their love of rock tradition extends to a romping encore during which Bridgers rips open her shirt and Dacus and Baker, joined by their support artist Katie Gavin, of Muna, wriggle on the ground. It’s frantic, ecstatic and, potentially, the future of stadium rock.

Ed Power

Ed Power

Ed Power, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about television and other cultural topics