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REVIEW: Bishop Briggs played a SOLD OUT show at the Underground

With performances from Bishop Briggs and Foreign Air

Bishop Briggs is the most bubbly and lively emo alternative artist in today’s music industry. With a wardrobe that consists of mostly black and short dark hair that is often put up into two buns or braids atop her head, the young musician may come off as intimidating at first glance. However, if you take two minutes to get to know Briggs, you will soon find out that under her fierce image lies an inviting and humble artist. Equally talented as she is entertaining, Briggs put on a stellar SOLD OUT show for Charlotte fans on Friday night.

The show was part of her Church of Scars Tour that began on April 27th, and Charlotte marked the halfway point in the tour. Beginning in Vancouver and ending in Milwaukee at Summerfest on July 3, Briggs’ tour consists of 34 dates in 34 different cities (many of which were, and are, sold out).

Briggs kick started her career by moving to Los Angeles and recording her first single “Wild Horses” in 2016. Climbing up to the top 20 on Alternative charts, due to the song being featured in an Acura commercial, the young artist began to gain traction in the industry. Hitting it big with the release of “River” on alternative radio stations in January of the same year, it became hard to escape Briggs’ smash hit. Her chilling and soft voice beginning in the first verse of “River” and then transitioning into a raspy, strong, and soulful scream that shifts in the chorus, is unlike all other songs on the radio. Reaching 81 million streams on Spotify, Briggs’ powerhouse voice left many wanting more. Touring all over the world, acts such as Coldplay, Kaleo, alt-J, and Bleachers helped her to gain an even larger following in the short span of just two years. On April 20, 2018, Briggs released her debut album Church of Scars.

Born in London and raised by Scottish parents, Sarah Grace McLaughlin, a.k.a Bishop Briggs, was influenced by many different musical genres and cultures. After living in London for four years, she moved to Tokyo with her family and fell in love with performing as an adolescent. At just four years old, she sang “Greatest Love of All” by Whitney Houston for a small audience in a Tokyo bar and hasn’t stopped since. Writing her own songs when she was 8, and continuing to perform at karaoke bars, Briggs hustled constantly in order to make it.  Living in Hong Kong from age 10 to 18, and then Los Angeles after her high school graduation, Briggs had unlimited experience under her belt performing in cities all over the world. Drawing influence from motown and pop culture artists such as The Beatles, Aretha Franklin, and Otis Redding, Bishop learned how to sing with the soul and emotion that appears in her work today.

Opening up was indie alternative band, Foreign Air. The duo is fronted by the creative Jesse Clasen and Jacob Michael. First meeting each other while playing in separate bands, in our very own, Charlotte, North Carolina, the two hit it off at Tremont Music Hall, which has since been closed. Becoming tour friends, sharing their music on Dropbox, staying in contact, attending shows together whenever possible, and creating songs as side project, the two acknowledged their chemistry as musicians and took advantage of it. They never planned to make music and tour professionally together, rather, it slowly became a thing, and before they knew it, they were hitting the road. Releasing their first single in 2015 on SoundCloud, “Free Animal”, a synth-pop-alternative song, the duo quickly gained fans and began to spark conversation among music lovers. Drawing influence from 80’s and 90’s songwriting and old rock and hip hop, the two would record in Clasen’s bedroom in Charlotte, figuring out sounds that would fit inside their musical puzzle pieces of samples they had sent over via Dropbox.

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Hitting the stage at 8:00pm, Foreign Air entered the presence of the sold out crowd at the Underground. Michael held down the fort on the bass and keys as Clasen sang and worked the crowd. Giving off an indie pop vibe, Michael sported a hawaiian shirt, and Clasen, a polka-dotted button down and a red blazer. The stage was covered with instruments and decorative light bulbs, leaving little room for movement, however, Clasen accepted the challenge and grooved with fans, making the most of his space.

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After their first three songs, Clasen introduced himself and said “Hello everybody, this is the part of the show where I say something and everyone says “WOOO!””

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Smiling at the crowd he said “We’re Foreign Air!” and the crowd replied with “WOOO!” Then, “Are you guys excited for Bishop Briggs?!” yet again, another “WOOO!” echoed through the crowd. Clasen explained that his job was to butter fans up before Briggs’ set. If there’s one thing to be said, Foreign Air did not fail to do so. They made the most of their short set, playing many of their singles including “Caffeine”, “In the Shadows”, and “Echo”. The wild card of the night was their live remix of the Yodel Boy’s Walmart performance, of which, I must say, was really catchy and I hate myself for liking it so much. As far as capturing the crowd’s attention, this was a genius move as it was likely the last thing fans expected to hear during the duration of the night.

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As the Charlotte stop was a hometown show for the duo, Clasen mentioned how special it was to the band, and not to mention how cool it was that Briggs sold the venue out. Clasen also gave a special shout out to an important crowd member. In between songs he told fans “Charlotte’s a special place… my parents are here! Say hello parents!”

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Foreign Air ended with their first single, “Free Animal” as the sound of chains clanked and Clasen belted out lyrics. At the end of the song, they exited the stage as lights flashed and the crowd cheered in pleasure.

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As I took a look at the crowd before Bishop Briggs’ set, it appeared as though most fans were in their early 30s or late 20s. There were many people dressed in black with space buns like the infamous Bishop Briggs; I even saw a few guys sporting space buns. There were also a lot of fans with tennis shoes on. I’m not sure what this had to do with the show, maybe it was all the dancing but I appreciated them dressing for comfort.

Bishop Briggs opened with “White Flag”, instantly pacing from one side of the stage to the other. Briggs carried the show with the power of her vocals while her band backed her, playing an array of instruments. After the first song, Briggs jumped viciously for the rest of her set. Managing to sing flawlessly while bouncing up and down truly blew me away. With this, I also discovered a great new way to stay in shape which I call, “The Bishop Briggs”, all you need is a concert and the ability to jump and you’re good to go.

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After singing “Wild Horses”, Briggs mentioned that although she was only two songs in, she was already having a great time and could tell that the show was going to make for a great night. She also said that the last time she was in Charlotte, she was opening for Kaleo at the Underground. After touring with them, she jealousy thought “it’s probably not even that great to headline”. However, she happily announced she was terribly wrong, and it is in fact “a blast”.

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Briggs embraced the energy in the audience and was personable with them throughout the night. As her set was twelve songs, she left a good amount of time to talk to the crowd. Storytelling appeared to be just as important as the musical segment of the night. One of the things Briggs talked about was the making of her debut album. She discussed how there were many secrets that had to be kept. She said “I love touring because I feel like I can talk and tell my secrets… I did tell my mom and sister my secrets… but that was it”. She then went on to talk about one of the “coolest” opportunities she had while writing “Church of Scars”.

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“One of those opportunities was that I had the pleasure to write with Dan from Imagine Dragons. While writing, we talked about sadness, and depression, anxiety, and human experiences.” Briggs claimed he really is the superhuman that everyone imagines him to be. She was very humbled by the experience of getting to write and record with him. The gratitude Briggs had for how much she’s done in her career so far was very refreshing. She took nothing for granted and had her fans and those who have supported her to thank.

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One of the highlights of the night was when Bishop Briggs sang “Water”. For those who weren’t aware of her ridiculous amount of talent before attending the show, this was the moment where they were, frankly, slapped in the face with it. Soul, power, and passion would be just a few things that Briggs encased in her performance when singing “Water”. Compared to other songs on the album, “Water” is stripped down. Beginning with a few powerful piano chords, then joined with a chorus, and climaxing with significant drum beats, the song sent chills throughout the venue. While Briggs poured her heart out, fans had a cathartic experience in which they were attending the “Church of Scars”. Many lifted their hands reaching for their idol in order to take in the moment.

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After playing “Hi-Lo (Hollow)”, the lights flashed and Briggs exited the stage as the encore was queued. The sold out crowd screamed from front to back for the young musician. She came back to sing her number one song, “River”, the moment everyone had been waiting for. Briggs allowed fans to sing the chorus as she pointed her microphone to the crowd. Her infectious jumping had contaminated fans as their feet failed to stay on the ground for any longer than two seconds. Phones emerged from pockets and purses to record the iconic moment. The volume of the crowd had increased massively within the encore. Everyone was singing or screaming whether they knew the words or not. Finishing her hour long set, she sprinted off stage as the song ended and fans danced until the noise faded.

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Having done her first headlining tour only last year, Bishop Briggs is sure to do big things in the future. Gaining so much success in one year, her show in Charlotte will likely not be the last. Talented, ambitious, and passionate, Briggs puts on a heck of a show and her concerts are a must see. We can’t wait to see what else the future has in store for the young musician and until then, we’ll continue to support her on her journey.

Check out the full gallery here!
Bishop Briggs 

Foreign Air


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