Review: Phoebe Ryan at the Fillmore Silver Spring
When Phoebe Ryan walked on stage at the Fillmore to the floor-shaking synths that opened her set, the venue was already full. This made sense — being the opener for someone as highly anticipated as Carly Rae Jepsen all but guarantees that people will be around for your set, but Ryan is someone who’s capable of drawing a big crowd all by herself.
She opened the set with her newest single “Build Me Up,” and before the song was halfway over, Ryan made it clear that it didn’t matter how much energy the crowd gave her, because she was going to bring it herself. She got down to the music, grooving across the stage, and flipping her seafoam green hair with abandon.
From an outsider’s perspective, Ryan’s career trajectory has been unique. She released her first four-track EP, “Mine,” in 2015. Four years later, she has yet to release her first full-length album. But even without a debut album, she’s memorable. From her vibrant hair and soft, childlike voice to her catchy hooks and utterly un-pretentious stage presence, it feels like she has the confidence of someone with years of experience in the industry.
By the time she launched into recent single, “A Thousand Ways,” a song that explores how a relationship can crumble. Behind the catchy hook, the song gives a glimpse into the darker parts of Ryan’s mind.
She then picked up her guitar and surprised the crowd with two unreleased songs. The first, a confessional track about her experiences in her early days of touring when she relied on drugs and alcohol, stunned the crowd with its vulnerability.
After giving us a glimpse of what the next stage of her career will look like, Ryan closed her set with “Mine,” a song about resilience and taking ownership for what’s left after a relationship dissolves. But beneath that, the lyrics — “I know that it’s mine, no matter what I do / I know that it’s mine whether I win or lose / and even though my heart needs to take its time / I know that it’s mine”— present a fitting metaphor for Ryan’s career. She’s made it by exposing the beauty in the tough stuff and deliberately choosing to take her time and show us the best of herself.
Photos by Meredith Wohl.