Bubbling with Excitement: Faye Webster at Humphreys Concerts By The Bay

Faye Webster graces San Diego’s Humphrey’s Concerts By The Bay on April 18th during her “Undressed at the Symphony” album tour
Bubbling with Excitement: Faye Webster at Humphreys Concerts By The Bay
Image by Sophie Nourbakhsh for The UCSD Guardian

The sun was setting over sailboats docked on the marina as concertgoers streamed into the seaside venue at Humphreys Concerts By The Bay. Even canoers stopped to claim their spots to watch the show. The smell of buttery popcorn carried through the breeze as I settled into my seat. On either side of the stage were laundry machines and clothing racks with blue outfits as seen in the album cover for Faye Webster’s newest album “Underdressed At The Symphony.” In the middle of the stage was a large, white t-shirt on a hanger. It was the perfect place to spend a Thursday evening. 

 

The opening band, Upchuck, immediately brought energy to the crowd with their alternative-rock sound. The strong drums and bassline in each song made it easy for everyone to headbang along, even if we could not quite hear the lyrics. The lead vocalist, KT, even encouraged jumping, perhaps hoping for the crowd to release some energy before inevitably mellowing down during Faye Webster’s set. Upchuck’s passion for performing was infectious, making for an invigorating and cathartic set. But of course, everyone was most excited when Upchuck brought Webster to the stage to help perform “Facecard.” I always love seeing how much the artists have bonded while touring together and was particularly struck by Webster’s clear admiration for Upchuck, even if the listening experience of their music is the polar opposite of hers. 

 

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After a long wait, the stage lights dimmed, murmurs turned into excited cheers, and a yellow minion resembling Faye Webster was projected onto the huge t-shirt decorating the stage. The minion began singing in its unintelligible Minionese, but there was no denying that it was to the tune of Webster’s new album’s second track “But Not Kiss.” As the instrumental boom after the song’s one-line verse began, more minions crowded into the frame to sing. As the minions giggled and disappeared, Webster walked on stage and began playing the song from the beginning. Webster’s voice was even more smooth and effortlessly emotional than in her recordings. 

 

With the end of each song came a guessing game of what Webster would play next, a question that would be answered quickly by each song’s unique instrumental intro. But, there was no instrumental intro more immediately recognizable and thrilling than “The Right Side of My Neck,” one of Webster’s most popular songs from her third album “Atlanta Millionaire’s Club.” After just a few notes from the bass guitar, fans were jumping with excitement with their hands in the air. Taking into account the popularity of the song, I was surprised to hear it so early in the set, but it opened the door to Webster’s full discography, which she thoroughly explored during the show. With only half of the tracks from “Underdressed at the Symphony,” the concert felt more like a tribute to her musical legacy, playing both popular and less popular songs from her other albums. 

 

During Webster’s performance of “The Right Side of My Neck,” bubbles flew in from the back of the venue and floated over the crowd and onto the red-lit stage. As she sang the refrain, the stage lights would quickly brighten to show all the bubbles filling the air. The bubbles elicited a childlike joy from the audience, mimicking the naive joy that comes with loving someone in the way “The Right Side of My Neck” describes. It was also just such a fun way to engage the audience and utilize the benefits of an open-air venue. 

 

Before performing “Lego Ring,” an animation of Faye Webster’s singsongorama, the Guitar Hero-like teaser game for the single, was projected onto the white t-shirt. A big wheel with Webster’s songs was spun until it landed on “Lego Ring,” which the band immediately began playing. Throughout the song, the t-shirt was animated with colorful scenes from the video game, referencing the “Lego Ring” music video and making the performance all the more fun. 

 

Afterwards, Webster transitioned into songs like “Lifetime,” “In A Good Way,” and “He Loves Me Yeah!” that would make any listener want to fall in love. By nature of Webster’s songwriting, there is particular emphasis on emotion through repetition of one key phrase, which becomes layered in new meanings throughout the song. The sparse lyrics also allow the instrumental to sweep listeners off their feet, which was done even more beautifully live. The band, which includes her brother Jack, was truly the lifeline of each song, completing the story that Webster tells as she sings. During “In A Good Way,” Webster paused for the most incredible guitar solo I have ever heard, fully expressing the relief and comfort that the relationship described in the song brings. 

 

The bubbles returned as Webster sang “Kingston” for her second encore song, closing out the night perfectly, and all too soon. The saxophone interlude sounded even better live, and during the viral line “he said, ‘baby,’ that’s what he called me,” Webster pointed the microphone outwards for the audience to scream along. After the song ended, the band gathered for a big group hug. 

 

While Webster’s lyrics can be emotionally heavy, her band’s groovy tunes made for a peaceful night of live music. I loved all the decorative and engaging stage elements Webster incorporated into the show, which felt like a reminder to take a step back and do something silly once in a while. I am still not sure what Webster’s connection to the minions is, but do we really need to know?

 

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About the Contributors
Xuan Ly, A&E Co-Editor
Xuan is a third-year global health major and art history minor. She loves seahorses, laying on the grass, and anything by Ocean Vuong.

Sophie Nourbakhsh
Sophie Nourbakhsh, Photographer
I am an aspiring physician. Go reds.
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