Live Review: boygenius at Gunnersbury Park, 20/08/23

boygenius brought indie rock, friendship and queer celebration to Gunnersbury Park with their first-ever UK show

Even with just an EP and one full-length album under their belt, boygenius’ UK debut couldn’t have come soon enough.

Ahead of the gig, the energy filing out of Acton Town station is something to behold… Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers arrive in Gunnersbury Park for their sold-out show with a support bill that has seemingly brought out all of London’s indie, folk and alternative music lovers.

When inviting the 25,000-strong crowd to applaud the support acts, Dacus shares that SOAK, Ethel Cain, and MUNA just so happen to be some of their favourite music acts around right now. “We’re mainly putting this show on just for us!”, she jokes. It’s clear why boygenius are admirers of all three acts; each band has taken off in their own right within the same indie scenes that Dacus, Bridgers and Baker sprang from. 

An intimate atmosphere is established early on, with the trio seemingly touched by the sprawling audience (“God, there are so many of you!”). Gunnersbury Park is their biggest headline show to date, but it won’t be for long.

Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus of boygenius at Gunnersbury Park on August 20, 2023.
Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus of boygenius at Gunnersbury Park on August 20, 2023.
Photo credit: Gus Stewart/Redferns

Many aspects of boygenius’ showmanship make them a riveting act to watch, but the core tenets of the band seem to be true friendship, a celebration of queer culture and a genuine appreciation of each other’s artistry. Arguably though, the most important element of all is that they genuinely seem to be having a lot of fun together – and that’s priceless. 

They each play a crucial part in making their harmonies utterly otherworldly. Dacus’ velvety alto is unwavering, full and melodic. Baker adds edge with power and grit that command the stage. And finally, the air of Bridgers’ ghostly soprano really drives home their harder-hitting emotional numbers tracks. boygenius waste no time in proving how it all fits together, opening with an a capella ‘Without You Without Them’. From that moment on, time sped up.

Mid-show comes a stand-out moment that highlights how all three are rockstars in their own right. Dacus, Baker and Bridgers step up to the mic in turn to deliver a track from their respective solo discographies (‘Please Stay’, ‘Favor’ and ‘Graceland Too’). These well-known tracks take on new identities thanks to the contributions the remaining members bring to their bandmates’ performances.

Fans who have been with the band since 2018 are especially well-looked after. Every track from their self-titled debut EP finds a place in the Gunnersbury setlist. Fan-favourite ‘Ketchum, ID’ was left for near-last, causing each row of fans to unfurl into song before Dacus turns to the crowd to finish the last chorus. But the most sung-along song award goes to ‘Cool About It’, the audience taking on a whole new energy as its intro rings out.

boygenius return for ‘Salt In The Wound’, going full rock star for a finale made all the more electric by MUNA running onto the stage to join in as fireworks rocketed above the park. 

From acoustic melancholia that quietens the huge crowd to a finale that sees all three musicians pushing their range to extremes, boygenius’ London headline debut is a perfect summation of their abilities. A two-night run in Halifax and a slot at Edinburgh’s Connect Festival are still to follow, but they’ve already proven why they’re topping the alternative/indie scene. This is only the beginning…

Find tickets for boygenius’ 2023 shows here

Photo credit: Gus Stewart / Redferns