Review by Philip Obenschain. Photos by Mary-Beth Blankenship.
Treating fans to more intimate club shows in between supporting Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour in massive stadiums, English indie pop rock breakout beabadoobee recently made her headlining Nashville debut with a sold out show at Marathon Music Works. Playing cuts spanning her entire relatively short but prolific career, getting candid, rocking out, and even welcoming a canine influencer to the stage, it was an extremely special way and a perfect space to welcome the buzzworthy artist to Music City, and we were thrilled to be there, after first catching her live last summer at Louisville’s Forecastle Fest. Read on for our review and photos!
I, I’m sure like many people, first got turned on to beabadoee thanks to her viral debut single “Coffee” and its reach in the early days of TikTok and on playlists. Initially a more lo-fi, bedroom pop sort of artist, it’s been a treat to watch her grow musically in the years since, progressing into a dreamy, lush, pop-infused, and occasionally more hard-hitting style of indie and alternative rock, honed throughout a string of great EPs and her two full-lengths, 2020’s Fake It Flowers and last year’s wonderful Beatopia. The Filipino born, British raised singer is actually much more of an indie rocker at heart, and though some of her more viral tunes might suggest a more stripped-down, chilled out live show, if you’ve spent a lot of time with her records, or if you’ve seen her in concert, you’ll find that a beabadoobee’s style and show feels more like a throwback to the indie rock boom of the aughts, or even the alternative and slacker rock scene of the ’90s. She performs and vibes as a part of her band as much as an individual artist, and though the more melancholy songs are certainly a part of the performance, the heavier, more upbeat tracks really shine, and create something that makes Bea feel really distinct from the bedroom pop peers she gets name-checked with.
Launching into the show with propulsive Beatopia opener “10:36,” beabadoobee and her band- bassist Eliana Sewell, drummer Louis Semlekan-Faith, and guitarist Jacob Bugden- set the tone for a really fun and engaging show, and the sold out crowd- largely the very hip and enthusiastic Gen Z audience I expected- echoed back their energy and passion. After throwing it back to Loveworm EP single “Apple Cider,” Bea opted to play the majority of the night’s Fake It Flowers songs together, which worked well since they’re so socially matched, from the earthworms that are “Care” and “Worth It,” to the sneaky heavy “Charlie Brown,” which hits even harder live. The subsequent string of new cuts from Beatopia, split up by older fave “She Plays Bass,” also made for a well-matched sonic block, and really showcased the singer’s impressive and inventive musical range, from the vibey “The Perfect Pair” to the soulful “Sunny Day” to the dynamic and loud “Don’t Get the Deal.” And, of course, towards the end of the set came a mix of older favorites, recent singles, and newer tunes, making for a fantastic, lean, and fan-geared performance from top to bottom.
I totally get why Taylor Swift invited beabadoobee on tour- all of the Eras openers are expertly curated and Bea is an exciting breakout artist- but as cool as it would be for the band to see this show in front of 70,000 people, I’m so glad I got to experience in a small room instead (ever since seeing her at a festival last year, I’ve been hoping to catch a show in a smaller room like this), as the energy and intimacy of a couple thousands fans and a close stage is unmatched. Bea expressed the same sentiment, at one point getting candid about how exciting the Eras opportunity was, but how much she enjoys playing to smaller crowds, and particularly in Taylor’s own adopted hometown (she indicated that her wardrobe choice was Nashville inspired, and even went on a little TMI story tangent which involved getting an intimate new piercing earlier in the day).
One of the most unexpected surprises of the night (unless you happened to check the singer’s Insta story ahead of time) came towards the end of the set, when, for ballad-y new tune “Glue Song,” beabadoobee welcomed out famed social media dog and Nashville resident Doug the Pug, who she proceeded to serenade while holding onto him for the entire song, decked out in a cute little outfit and earmuffs (clearly an animal lover, she gushed about the experience on social media a bunch afterwards as well). Returning to the stage for an encore, Bea, of course, played a sweet rendition of “Coffee,” with the audience harmonizing in a way only Nashville crowds can, before closing out with fan-favorite tune “Talk” and buzzy tune “Cologne.”
A stellar, personal, and career-spanning show, you couldn’t really ask for more as a beabadoee fan, nor a better way to welcome the singer to Nashville for the first time. I really appreciate her commitment to making it an organic, guitar-driven, no-fuss indie rock show, and one propelled by the strength and variety of her own skilled songwriting and performance chops. Whether you see her in a massive arena or in a more intimate club, if you’re a fan of beabadoobee’s music, she’s an artist you absolutely MUST see live!
All photos by Mary-Beth Blankenship.
The Perfect Pair
She Plays Bass
Don’t Get the Deal
See You Soon
Back to Mars
Last Day on Earth
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