When I saw that BETWEEN FRIENDS was coming to San Diego, I jumped at the chance to go. I first heard of the indie pop duo—comprised of siblings Brandon and Savannah Hudson—in 2017 after their song “Suburban Wonderland” blew up. Because I was a teenager just discovering my music taste, this song served as an early glimpse into the indie pop scene. The following year, they released their first EP We Just Need Time Together, containing their hit single “Affection” which currently has almost 200 million streams on Spotify.
Blake the Man 1000 opened for the duo with a subpar performance. For an alternative/indie concert, he was a surprising choice. Throughout his set, the artist muttered a repeated phrase—even pausing during songs to perseverate—which I eventually worked out was “focus and gratitude”. After a display of his ‘Blake the Man 1000’ chest tattoo and a few more songs, the set was over. Ultimately, the corny set put a damper on the evening that I hoped would dissipate once the main act took the stage.
From the moment the exuberant duo skipped on stage in coordinated grunge outfits, I knew I was in for a good show. BETWEEN FRIENDS opened with “Stalker”, the first song on their debut album titled I Love My Girl, She’s My Boy, released in August 2023. The energy started on a high as I felt compelled to join the crowd dancing along. Within the first few songs of the show, the siblings’ impeccable stage presence was undeniable. Savannah possessed a similar energy to that of classic performers like Gwen Stefani in No Doubt (in fact, when I ran into her after the show, she confirmed that she sought to channel the singer).
In a post about their new album, the siblings shared that it addresses years of their lives, encompassing the myriad of feelings they experienced over that time—including falling in love and heartbreak. Though the album divulges into heavy themes surrounding relationships, their performance was far from subdued. Their strong connection to the songs was clear as Savannah passionately chanted the lyrics, heartbreak and anger painted across her face. The band leveraged the small venue as they reached out to the audience and sang to the listeners pressed up against the barricade. In an effort to include the crowd, the pair extended the microphone towards the audience, inviting them to join them in song. This interactive and passionate performance created an intimate atmosphere, engrossing the audience in a collective experience that resonated with each person in the room.
About halfway through the show, the duo shifted gears to their more lo-fi songs. This gave Brandon a chance to shine with background vocals while Savannah sang the melody. Their impressive blend was just the cherry on top for the exceptionally talented siblings.
BETWEEN FRIENDS finished out their set performing the rest of their songs on their 2023 album, concluding with the title track. This song is a more experimental take on the siblings’ traditionally indie pop sound, with spoken verses and an 80s-inspired synth groove, but in the context of a live show, it shined. It’s not their most popular track by any means, but experiencing it live—, as the entire room jumped along to the chorus—, felt euphoric. Savannah changed a few lyrics in the second verse to say “I remember when I was in San Diego”, a personalized touch that I always appreciate at concerts. As abruptly as the song ended, the duo left the stage with a quick “bye!”.
Some may take that as the end of a concert, but the crowd knew BETWEEN FRIENDS would not leave without playing the songs that put them on the map. Luckily, they were right, and after a few chants of, “One more song!”, the duo was back on stage. They started back up with “Suburban Wonderland”, the song that made me and so many others realize their talent. Hearing it live, the listener is transported into their very own coming-of-age movie. The pair ended their second to last show of their world tour by playing their most popular song, “affection”. It was an incredible performance that highlighted the growth of both siblings’ vocal abilities since initially hearing the song when it was released in 2018. As the song wound down, the crowd grew louder and louder until they drowned out the duo, who basked in the glow of an incredible show.
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