“We learned a lot of rules here that we’ve since learned to break.” Wynter Bethel and Tessa Mouzourakis, two halves of the London-based indie pop duo known as Tommy Lefroy, stand breathlessly in front of the crowd at Exit/In, a venue they’ve dreamed of playing since they met in Nashville back in 2017. Their faces shine under the blue and red spotlights as they introduce the final songs of their setlist, preparing to close out an energetic show with a gut-wrenching, hopeful acoustic song followed by a feminist anthem. 

Tommy Lefroy, named for the heartbreaker who is said to have inspired Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, released their debut EP Flight Risk in 2021 and their sophomore EP Rivals in 2023. Both records contain honest expressions of girlhood and heartbreak against a backdrop of distorted guitar tracks and distinctive harmonies. After spending the beginning of the year opening for Samia, the duo has now embarked on their very first headline tour; Nashville is the eighth of thirteen stops in North America.

The show was opened by Wilby, a Nashville-based indie rock band headed by Maria Crawford. Their set ranged from danceable to cathartic, peaking with a wildly expressive vocal performance of “Happiest Woman” – a Crawford original – which had all the intimacy of an acoustic ballad despite the intensity of the band behind her.

Haley Blais was the second opener – she’s been on tour with Tommy Lefroy since their first show in Boston. Her performance was intimate, with her vocals and acoustic guitar accompanied only by Lindsay Sjoberg on electric guitar and background vocals. The simplicity of the production drew attention to the confessional nature of the lyrics, which were simultaneously poignant and humorous. Her set culminated in a crowd-involved performance of “Coolest fucking bitch in town”, her most popular song to date. “Sing it to me like you hate me,” she said, cupping her hand to her ear and grinning as the audience screamed the words back to her.

Tommy Lefroy’s opening song needed no introduction. As they stepped onstage, a powerful, tuneless bass echoed throughout the venue. The tension and release preceded a powerful rendition of “The Mess”, a heartfelt yet concise ballad detailing the confusion and growth that accompany youth and aging. The quick transition into “Worst Case Kid”, a more upbeat expression of the same growing pains of maturing, was wordless. The tempo of the music quickened, and the duo’s charisma shone through as Bethel pulled her microphone from its stand and crouched at the front of the stage, reaching her hands out to the audience in front of her and singing directly to them.

Wynter Bethel singing to the crowd at Exit/In, Oct. 5th, 2023.

The rest of their setlist was an intentional rise and fall of emotional and sonic expression, moving directly from a gut-wrenching, increasingly desperate rendition of “Knievel” into an upbeat performance of “The Cause”. Between songs, Bethel and Mouzourakis told stories of their time in Nashville, Bethel even recalling a time she used her sister’s ID to sneak into Exit/In when she was sixteen and had just moved to the city. “I can’t believe I’m saying this right now,” she joked, giggling and covering her mouth with her hand.

With a relatively small discography, the duo was able to incorporate the majority of their released tracks into the setlist. “Slick”, “Northern Towns”, “Vampires”, “Mortals”, “Shoot”, “and “Jericho Beach” were all performed, followed by a melodically distinct rendition of “Norman Fucking Rockwell”, by Lana Del Rey. Their entire set culminated in their closing song, the title track of their 2021 EP Flight Risk. The performance of this song was a catharsis of sorts, bringing the swell of energy that had grown throughout the setlist to a satisfying end.

Tommy Lefroy’s wild finish to their Exit/In performance, Oct. 5th, 2023.

Their feigned attempt to leave the stage was met with a chant: “One more song!” They stepped back onto the stage, smiling sheepishly. “How about two more?” The final songs were demonstrative of the range of the entire set, with a toned-down rendition of “Recency Bias” preceding a more upbeat performance of “Dog Eat Dog”.

In an expressive performance, Tommy Lefroy captured the attention of the Exit/In crowd and held it throughout the entire show. The duo will wrap up their tour in mid-October, so grab a ticket while you can!

Listen to Rivals here: