Electric. That’s Bishop Briggs in a word. The 24-year-old phenomenon sold out the El Rey in Los Angeles on April 13th, 2017, filling the petite venue to the brim with admirers. This El Rey show kicked off her first headlining tour with supporting acts Shaed and Manatee Commune.
Bishop Briggs is the stage name of Sarah McLaughlin, a reference to the town of Bishopbriggs, Scotland. Briggs was born in London, but grew up in Tokyo and Hong Kong. She discovered her talents whilst doing karaoke as a child and moved to Los Angeles to study at Musician’s Institute. After playing local shows for quite some time, Bishop Briggs is making the breakthrough we all saw coming. It’s a good time to get to know her as she is blowing up on the festival circuit. Briggs left her mark on the Gobi Tent during her Coachella debut this past weekend, creating many new fans and thoroughly impressing those who knew her previously.
Billboard’s recently named “New Voice of Alternative” jumped onstage full of energy—sporting her signature Stan Smiths and spiked choker. With the anticipation of her self-titled EP release at midnight, the crowd was nothing but excited. These fans were dedicated. The moment Briggs set foot on stage, her name echoed from the walls, shouted by adoring fans. Not a lyric was missed—even ones from her unreleased tracks.
Bishop Briggs is a perfect harmony of dark and light, intense lyrics and sharp musicality with the brightness of her personality shining through. She has an eerily powerful presence unmatched by any artist I have seen to date. Briggs forcefully catapults herself across the stage throughout the set, connecting with virtually every individual in the crowd.
While many artists are afraid to feel the music they are performing, Bishop Briggs is most definitely not. From her movement it is evident that she truly connects with the words she is singing. Her transparency in writing her music allows for her listeners to gain a deeper understanding of her both as a person and as an artist. She only gives you further insight into her soul during her live shows. She is a true force.
The set flowed seamlessly. It was the perfect balance of old and new tracks, without the boring middle we are all far too familiar with. There was never a dull moment. Even during the “calmer” songs, “Be Your Love” and “The Fire,” she carried the energy through.
Towards the end of the set, Briggs played her track “Hi-Low,” which has yet to be released formally. Her vocal strength is truly showcased when she performs this, leading it to be one of my favorites to watch her do live. The track was particularly special at this show, however. During one of her infamous beat drops, massive balloons in the shape of her logo shot into the crowd. She carried through the rest of the song, kicking the balloons into the energetic audience with as much intensity as she belted the lyrics.
Briggs ended the set with her most famous track, “River.” From the first note, the entire venue was chanting the lyrics and jumping with the beat. She carried this electricity throughout the song, growing stronger and stronger as it progressed. Just as the crowd cheered thinking the show was over, she broke out into an intense alternate ending to the well-known tune. Think heavy-metal meets dance club, and everything in between.
As I watched people file out of the venue, I couldn’t help but wonder what it is about Bishop Briggs that brings all of these people together in such an exciting way. I think it’s that with every song she sings and every note she hits, she makes people feel something. They know what she is singing in coming from deep within. As her club venues turn to arenas and her EPs turn into albums, this Bishop Briggs journey will be a fun one to watch.