Lucy Dacus, Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker each have substantial solo careers, but together they have formed an adored triumvirate that has left fans hungry for more. “The boys,” as they and their listeners affectionately call themselves, have been on tour since the release of their first full album, “The Record” (2023) this past March. The album has garnered the group a loyal fanbase who showed up hours before doors opened at MGM Music Hall on Tuesday, Sept. 25 to try to secure a spot close to the stage.
The band began their set from backstage with the first song off “The Record,” an acapella track called “Without You Without Them.” This song acts as an ode to the group’s predecessors, an acknowledgement of their position in history. Because this song was performed through a live-streamed video, it gave audience members a chance to be present and to settle into themselves before the rest of the 90-minute set.
Immediately after this harmonic introduction, the boys jumped into a more intense rhythm with “$20” and “Satanist.” With lyrics like “It’s a bad idea and I’m all about it” and “sleep in cars and kill the bourgeoisie,” these songs represent the group’s angsty side.
The next track, titled “Emily I’m Sorry,” slowed down the show for a more mellow vibe. Then came “True Blue,” a song about connection, trust and loyalty. Dacus’s voice perfectly complements the comforting lyricism: “It feels good to be known so well / … / I remember who I am when I’m with you.” This song represents the trio’s unconditional love for each other and how their true selves can shine when they are together. “Cool About It” then provided a contemplative experience before the band took a step back into the past to play “Souvenir” and “Bite The Hand” from their 2018 eponymous EP.
Another Dacus-led song from “The Record” called “Leonard Cohen” followed. This song features the repeated line “I might like you less now that you know me so well,” a direct contradiction to the aforementioned part of “True Blue” that states “It feels good to be known so well.” These lines speak to the complexity of connection. The desire to be known is pervasive, yet actually being known opens up the opportunity for disappointment and insecurity.
The next three songs gave each band member a chance to play music from their individual careers, reminding listeners that each member retains their own unique sound despite their decision to form a band. Dacus played “Please Stay” (2021) and Baker sang “Favor” (2021). Bridgers followed with “Graceland Too” (2020), a song that has gained newfound attention due to the rumors that it was written about Baker. Bridgers shows her admiration for her subject in the final lines of the song: “I will do anything you want me to / I will do anything for you / … / Whatever you want me to do, I will do / Whatever she wants.”
The boys followed their individual performances with the debut of a new song, “Black Hole,” as well as an announcement of a new EP scheduled to be released on Oct. 13. The song was on par with the rest of their work with smooth harmonies, unique guitar work and poetic lyricism.
Before playing “Letter to an Old Poet” (2023), Bridgers sat at the front of the stage to ask the audience to put their phones away. On the verge of tears, she expressed that this song is difficult for her to play and that she wanted to see people’s faces, not their cameras. While singing, she leaned her head back into the crowd to be embraced by fans.
They then jumped right into fan favorite “Not Strong Enough” (2023) to close out the main set. This song encompasses the band’s reshaping of gender roles and sexuality with lines like “I don’t know why I am / The way I am / Not strong enough to be your man.” As the band discussed in a Genius interview, this song was intended to represent the cognitive dissonance of not being able to show up for the person you love, as well as dealing with the balance between self-hatred while also having a god complex.
The boys treated the audience to an encore where they sang “Ketchum, ID” (2018), which encapsulates how they feel uprooted and unsettled by tour: “I am never anywhere / Anywhere I go / When I’m home, I’m never there / Long enough to know.” During the last verse of their final song for the night, “Salt In The Wound” (2018), the boys invited indie-folk sensation Hozier onstage to help them close out their first night in Boston.
The special cameo, the announcement of a new EP and the sneak peak of their new song left fans even more excited for the future of boygenius. Overall, the night truly exemplified the group’s clever music-making as well as their ability to maintain continuity throughout their work.
The boys put on a show that tied together each song to form a consistent theme of friendship, loss and love that anyone can relate to.