Live Review: Phoebe Ryan indulges in all our millennial vices at Brighton Music Hall


In this savage, streaming-service-forward music industry, musicians really have to take an ultra-cocky stance on just about everything if they want to make it out alive (or, more accurately, with at least with a successful single or two).

Thus far, it’s worked fairly well for pop singer Phoebe Ryan, who’s been using “Mine” as her mantra since day one of her solo singing career. After coming out from behind her songwriting curtain and into the limelight (literally — the girl rocks green everywhere she goes) with her Mine EP, she’s been contributing to, and slaying, the current alt-pop craze.

Running onstage at Brighton Music Hall in Allston this past Friday (November 3) after an opening set by morgxn, she wasn’t about to let anybody forget it.


“I found gold in the wreckage, put it on a necklace/Keepin’ it ’cause I know that it’s mine,” she sang, bounding onstage and reciting lyrics from the title track of her first EP. The tune marked a special era of Ryan’s life, as she started to shift from behind-the-scenes songwriter (for names like Oh Honey and Bea Miller) and signed to Columbia Records to release music under her own name.

Two years later, she’ll still churning out airy and blithe bops, the most recent of which are collected on her James EP, released just last month.

Interview: Phoebe Ryan finds the perfect mix between alternative and mainstream

Ryan’s appeal, besides her obvious songwriting knack, is unlike that of her jewels-n-drugs-boasting comrades; instead of drifting off into verses about the posh life, every single track she’s put out indulges in the benign vices of most 20-somethings. Her early success can be traced back to her “Ignition (Remix)” and “Do You” mashup, which really can’t get more millennial than that. Likewise, “Dark Side” is about resisting the urge to become a better person, and “Forgetting All About You” salutes gloriously immature binge-smoking and bar-hopping. The entire package crammed into an energetic, emerald-haired pixie makes Ryan’s live experience just like hanging out with that cool new best bud you met at last weekend’s rager.

Her newly-released James EP, a testament to modern relationship woes, keeps the trend going.

“We all have a James…” the singer said, explaining her new archetypes for exes on Friday night. “Might be a boy, might be a girl, but we all have a freaking James!”

Unpacking the EP onstage, Ryan glowed with her signature colorful and sensual electropop. Her rendition of “Apirin” dripped with steaminess, boasting your pick of lewd yet somewhat innocuous lyrics (“your love is massive,” “My phone is full of fuckin’ photos”), while “Be Real” vibrated the venue’s floor with an overwhelming amount of bass, and her live rap of blackbear’s verse on “Forgetting All About You” arguably went harder than the studio version.

As an extra treat, Ryan performed the more stomp-y and aggressive track “Ring,” a James reject that might be released on a future album.

“Everybody [on twitter] hates me because I keep playing it live and it didn’t make the album,” Ryan admitted, laughing. For good measure, she sprinkled in her collab with the Chainsmokers (“All We Know”) and playful acoustic ditty “Unicorn” before dipping.

“Boston, you are too lit,” she said, closing the show with an encore of her “Ignition (Remix)”/“Do You?” mashup.

Best buds status achieved.

Featured photo by Victoria Wasylak; follow her on Twitter @VickiWasylak.