The 2017 “Wonder Woman” movie regularly brought female audience members to tears with scenes familiar from dozens of other action films — except that everyone onscreen was a woman. The tableau at the Hollywood Bowl stirred similar emotions in me. Boygenius has an all-female backing band (they were dressed as angels, in white Dickies jumpsuits and halos), and there were a lot of women around. It felt as if there were almost no men. When Bridgers’s boyfriend, the comedian and musician Bo Burnham, showed up with his plus-one — the actor Andrew Garfield, in a Cobra Kai karate uniform he sweetly described as “comfy” — you could feel the energy shift. “You do your thing, don’t worry about me,” Burnham said to Bridgers, ducking out just as Grohl appeared with two of his daughters. “I’ll text you when Mom gets here,” he told them, disappearing into his dressing room to change.
A few minutes later, the band took the stage, to their standard walk-on music: Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back in Town.” Like everyone else, Grohl was there to serve the boygenius experience. He wanted to play drums on the propulsive “Satanist,” which meant coming on just a few songs into the show. The group sounded insane with Grohl behind them: big and bold, like a band that understood its power and was relaxed enough to fully enjoy it — but then it sounds that way without him too. “OK,” Bridgers said, shaking her body out and grinning. “I feel like the show is happening now. I feel like I just came online.”
For the rest of the nearly two-hour performance, there was a sense of easy pleasure in the air, both onstage and in the crowd. Kristen Stewart could be seen in her box with her fiancée, Dylan Meyer, and a pack of fellow willowy motorcycle-jacket-clad Angelenos drinking Modelo with their feet up, singing along. “I’ve seen them twice now, and I tell myself every time to be cool, but I lose it,” Stewart says. “I don’t know why it’s so emotional. I think what it is, they are a real [expletive] band. There is something in the way they don’t negotiate. It’s embedded in a bond that feels like if you ‘get it,’ you’re allowed in. And allowed.” A few seats away, a lesbian couple in schoolgirl outfits smiled goofily amid bouts of making out. In between songs, Bridgers brought out Maxine, her famous-to-fans pug, dressed as a tiny sheep, and intoned, “Behold the lamb of God!” Just before the final encore, Dacus grabbed her microphone. “I have found it hard to figure out what to say to you this whole night,” she said, her voice full. “But to sum it up, we love you very much, and the fact that you love us is not lost on us. This is an absurd dream. Thank you.”
Backstage after the show, Grohl and Billie Eilish and other assorted band insiders mingled in the greenroom. Elsewhere on the grounds, at the official after-party, Bridgers’s mother was milling around, beaming: “We have some friends from high school we need to check on, to make sure they’re not freaking out because they can’t get a drink.” (There’s no alcohol backstage on boygenius tours.) Bridgers eventually appeared with Burnham, a black hoodie pulled tight over her head, on guard once again.