Published Sep 16, 2018Born in London to Scottish parents and raised in Tokyo and Hong Kong before settling in Los Angeles, Sarah Grace McLaughlin named herself Bishop Briggs, so she's not a real preacher, but that didn't stop her from taking Rifflandia to church. With tears in her eyes for the beauty of Victoria, she expressed amazement and gratitude for being on the main stage, but she clearly deserved to be there.
The solid indie pop of Briggs' 2018 debut album Church of Scars took on an even grander anthemic quality in the live setting, particularly "Hallowed Ground," "White Flag" and "River." With two guys triggering her beats, one switching between keys and guitar and the other on a hybrid synth drum kit, with occasional pre-recorded backing vocals for the hooks, Briggs had a much more pop than indie stage setup, insofar as it limits musical risk, but also happens to sound studio perfect on a festival main stage, as rich and full as on record, and she put all of herself into her vocals.
Briggs' music often has an air of seriousness weighing it down emotionally, but she clearly enjoys herself greatly in a live setting. Bouncing around from one side of the stage to the other, sticking her tongue out, smiling so wide you'd think her head might split in two, and making the occasional stank face when she had to reach for those soulful crescendos, Briggs was almost out of breath after a few tracks. For "Dark Side," from her self-titled EP, she literally sprinted from one side to the other, and threw in a little bit of shadow boxing for good measure.
Briggs knows her worth now, but she says still waiting for the wisdom that comes with age. Yet, she went on to drop a little knowledge anyway, telling people to express their views unless they happen to be homophobic, transphobic, misogynistic or whatever. Given the all-ages crowd, she apologized in advance for the sex talk and curse words in her love song, "Baby." She's aware of herself. If the world isn't aware of her yet, it will be soon.