There’s a uniquely sardonic quality about the way Atlanta singer-songwriter Faye Webster engages with the world. It’s listless and above-it-all in many ways—but never pretentious or off-putting. She’s cooler than you, but you don’t resent her for it.
It’s hard to find people who occupy a similar vein in the music scene as it is now, especially the indie one in which Webster finds herself. Having seen St. Vincent’s The Nowhere Inn the night before, questions of artistic authenticity, the effectiveness of a public persona, and what level of intimacy the public deserves with an artist were at the top of my mind. I’d guess that’s why Webster’s stage presence made such an impact on me throughout the course of her sold-out set.
Her I Know I’m Funny haha is, far and away, one of the best releases of 2021, a gloriously off-kilter and laid-back balm to the fanfare and Big Moments of a lot of recent music (as well as life in general). It occupies a similar space to last year’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters—yes, I went there—in its complete and utter disregard for sensationalism. Webster just wants to reflect and talk, dammit! She has the sole writing credit on the entire record, and that shines through in every fiber of the tracks, musical or otherwise, which all coalesce in the service of an unfiltered, crystalline sense of vulnerability.
I say “talk” because in many ways this is a record that feels conversational—a notion Webster reflects in the album’s colloquial title. It’s no surprise, then, that many of her show’s highlights came from her commentary between songs. A particularly charming moment occurred during her introduction to Animal Crossing song “7AM” as she told an enraptured crowd about her use of Animal Crossing: New Horizons as a source of escapism and how it felt to return to her island months later.
“My villagers were all bullies,” she said with a warm sort of deadpan that would have been off-putting coming from anyone else. “It made me not wanna play anymore!”
It was also at this point in the show when I began to notice just how—giving the benefit of the doubt here—participatory the crowd was. The whole thing threw me off as I found myself surrounded by (mostly failed) attempts at banter, an oddly high-energy dynamic for a comparatively low-energy (not a read!) set.
But that’s the power of Faye Webster; I know that particular connection I felt to her—the way she’s cool but within reach, your aspirational best friend—is something everyone in that crowd experienced in their own way.
Since the return of live music, I had yet to go to a show like this one, with the closest thing being Phoebe Bridgers’ sets in Nashville and Louisville—but even then there was a level of production and distance that just wasn’t present here.
And I’m so glad it wasn’t.