OAKLAND — She floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee. Bishop Briggs took the stage at the Fox Theater Tuesday night like she was entering the ring to compete in the title fight. The gig was Briggs’ opener of the final leg of her North American tour in support of her debut album, Church of Scars.
Briggs hopped onto the stage shrouded in the spotlight and smoke, delivering the opening lines of “The Way I Do,” before the lights and her two bandmates kicked in to open up the set in dramatic fashion. Shortly into the performance, she reflected on the opportunity to headline the Fox a year removed from supporting Bleachers at the same venue.
“I’m not comparing the two shows so far, but if I was this one might be winning,” she said. Afterward, she posted on social media that it was in fact her largest headlining show in her young career.
Bishop Briggs has a bubbly, energetic stage presence and an authenticity that shines through in both her performance and mid-song banter. She still seems to be surprised and appreciative of her own success, and appeared genuinely thrilled when fans sang the words to her songs or roared their approval. The crowd provided ample support in the chorus of the stomper “Wild Horses,” one of the standout songs of the night.
Flanked by her two supporting musicians and a healthy dose of strobes, smoke and lasers, Briggs never once seemed out of place.
“This is our first night using these lights,” she said early into the show. “I feel like I’m at a rave.”
Vocally, Briggs blended shades of Adele, Lorde and Jessie J. Throughout, she rarely stopped moving, and spent a good chunk of the show hopping around like a boxer or a sprinter.
On tracks like the powerful “White Flag,” Briggs bobbed, weaved and shadow-boxed the air as the song crescendoed. The cardio alone must be an exhausting feat by the end. As dramatic as her performance could be, there were quieter moments as well. Briggs slowed the pace for a cover of INXS staple “Never Tear Us Apart,” which she recored for the soundtrack to Fifty Shades Freed.
Briggs closed out her set with “Dream” before asking if she could skip the formalities of an encore break and move straight to the big finish, because taking a break “isn’t really my style.”
She performed bouncy new song “Baby,” which she prefaced with a warning that it was a “a love song that includes sex, drug use, and some bad language.” Briggs closed the night with a soaring rendition of fan favorite “River.”
Rochester indie rock band Joywave opened the show with a stellar set of upbeat, danceable rock that provided a natural lead-in to Briggs.
Frontman Daniel Armbruster was a natural charismatic frontman with an impressive vocal range and his bandmates provided an impressive musical canvas for him to work around their airy guitars, driving bass and syncopated percussion.
While Joywave has now been through the Bay Area numerous times, the band members noted it was their first time performing in Oakland.
Armbruster built an immediate rapport with the crowd, making customary self-deprecating jokes, this time about fans not knowing the material and impatiently waiting for Joywave to finish up. At one point, a concertgoer presented Armbruster with the gift of a ripe zucchini. Armbruster enthusiastically accepted it, even though he didn’t get the joke.
Joywave returns to the Bay Area this fall supporting Sir Sly.