By Noah Lyons
Re:SET concert series is re-imagining what summer concerts look like.
While artists like boygenius and Steve Lacy can surely fill out stadiums full of fans, Re:SET seeks to offer a more intimate concert experience. Rather than setting up several stages with overlapping set times, Re:SET takes place in one place. The lineups also include up-and-coming indie artists, many of whom are on the cusp of superstardom.
To decide the performers, the organizers for the concert series enlisted the help of their headline acts — boygenius, LCD Soundsystem and Steve Lacy. The three acts curated their own concert lineup.
In the instance of San Diego’s inaugural show, headliner boygenius brought along Clairo, Dijon and Bartees Strange. The quartet of beloved indie artists brought their unique sounds and styles to Thrive Park, just outside of the newly-minted Snapdragon stadium.
Bartees Strange, accompanied by four instrumentalists, was the first artist to perform at the concert. Stereogum named Bartees Strange an artist to watch in 2020, and he previously toured with Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, Car Seat Headrest and The National. He brought a unique blend of indie rock and jazz to Re:SET.
He was donned in a Baltimore Orioles City Connect jersey, jeans and an orange hat, but the hat was promptly flung into the audience for a lucky fan.
While his set was under ten songs, he still left an impression on the audience.
The second act of the night, Dijon Duenas, took the audience on an emotional rollercoaster during his performance. Dijon’s set was at times heavy and thunderous, and at other times introspective and gentle. His voice teetered from creaky and distraught to smooth and soft. Aiding his dynamic vocal performance were an abundance of sharp synth notes that shook the venue.
He shared the mic with his guitarist, Michael Gordon, who performed a song and garnered a warm welcome from the audience. The whole band was placed in close proximity in center stage, giving the performance a personal feel.
As the sun descended, the venue filled up to the back of the venue, with some fans laying down a blanket and enjoying the music by the hill, and others standing to get the best view. There was a noticeable buzz in anticipation of Clairo and boygenius.
Claire Cottrill, better known by her stage name of Clairo, brought a jazzy and classy vibe to the festival. Coming off of the success of her second studio album, “Sling,” Cottrill performed many of her new songs — “Bambi,” “Zinnias,” “Harbor,” “Partridge” and “Amoeba.”
The aforementioned “Amoeba” and her closing track, “Bags,” drew the biggest reactions from the crowd.
Clairo’s set was also notable for how she paid homage to the past and teased more music in the future. First, she played a cover of 1972’s “Bitter With the Sweet” by legendary singer-songwriter Carole King. Right after, she surprised the audience with an unreleased song.
The track, which she recently wrote, was performed for the first time on stage. While the lyrics were fully formed, the band was told before the set to improvise their parts.
“This version of this song might only exist on this stage,” she announced to the audience.
boygenius — a supergroup of female singer-songwriters consisting of Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus — was the last band to take the stage on day one of the Re:SET concert series.
Their set marked the first show of the first tour the group has gone on since 2018. They certainly brought their A game, delivering a captivating blend of melancholy ballads and raucous tunes.
Before they took the stage, they invited four indigenous men on stage to deliver a Kumeyaay land acknowledgement. The band also highlighted local charities, SD Food Bank, HeadCount, Stop AAPI Hate and Sounds of Saving, via social media.
boygenius started their performance with sublime harmonies on “Without You Without Them,” before jumping into their biggest-sounding track, “$20.” Soon after, the trio slowed things down with “Emily I’m Sorry” and “True Blue.”
All four of those tracks come from the band’s first studio album, aptly named “the record.” The album drew critical acclaim and fulfilled the wishes of longtime fans of the band’s self-titled 2018 EP. The fans could hardly contain their excitement, as screams and tears were abundant in the midst of the general admission crowd.
In all, the band performed over 20 songs from “the record,” their EP and some of the artists’ solo work. It was a fitting end to a dynamic first day.
The Re:SET series is set to continue throughout the month of June, with stops in Boston, Dallas, Chicago and many other locations across the United States. For tickets or more information, visit Re:SET’s official website.
Event coverage provided by Noah Lyons, Jesse Munyoki and Ethan Karlin