Inching closer to the end of summer, Boston experiences no shortage of humid, sticky nights where the air is a bit too tangible. The lethargic act of scrolling through TikTok is second nature on hot days like this, and one might just happen upon videos of people lip-synching one of Faye Webster’s lyrics.
“He said ‘Baby,’ that’s what he called me,” the line goes. “‘I love you.’” People making these videos may not have heard of the indie-folk artist ahead of the audio, but Webster has been building a strong repertoire of lovelorn lyrics over the last 9 years. The 25 year-old keeps her heart on her sleeve when writing. Sweet and sour romances decorate all four of her albums, and her two most recent LPs have captured the attention of Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, and even former president Barak Obama.
This stop at the Royale followed Webster’s previous visit to Boston at The Sinclair in September 2021. She traded the signature glowing “haha” decor from the fall tour for a more extravagant stage setting: an inflatable bust of herself with glowing eyes. This set piece was a callback to her most recent release, the EP “Car Therapy Sessions,” whose cover features Webster surrounded by string instruments and adorned in an elaborate blue dress.
She kicked off her set with “Better Distractions,” one of the singles off “I Know I’m Funny, Haha.” The wavy, echoing track also had a bit of time in the spotlight on TikTok, although it was shown to a more niche crowd who may have already been familiar with Webster. “Kind Of” followed, which is a true showcase of Webster’s heart-on-her-sleeve songwriting; The opening lines ask “Who loved you first?/ Who loved you last?/ Why do I even think of these things?” To top off the beginning of the set, she brought out one of her most popular songs, “Right Side of My Neck.” At the tail-end of summer, the people clutching the barricade sang along to the fan favorite (maybe reminiscing on a seasonal fling?). They screamed out “You said you can’t change your haircut/ but it looks good anyway” as Webster gave a beaming grin above them.
Before swinging back into newer songs, Webster touched a highlight from her 2017 self-titled album, “She Won’t Go Away.” She then hit the title track from “I Know I’m Funny, Haha,” and rocked into the emotional ballad, “A Dream with a Baseball Player.” Following was another classic from the “Atlanta Billionaires Club,” “Jonny.” Newer fans seemed surprised by Webster’s spoken-word section of “Jonny (Reprise)” where she lets a shaky, emotive stream of thought unravel on stage.
In true Faye Webster fashion, there was a unique instrumental cover inserted halfway through the show. At previous shows, she and her band had created wavy, folk-ified covers of Animal Crossing music, and at this show they pulled out a surprise from the Pokemon games. Webster admitted that, while in the game, she would sometimes sit by a lake just to hear this theme. The Royale became engulfed in blue as the band played their version of “Lake Verity.” Webster followed the cover with the dreamy “In a Good Way” and pulled out the slow, driving “Cheers” after.
To close the set, Webster took the stage alone for the heartstring-tugging “Half of Me” that finishes “I Know I’m Funny Haha.” While the simple singular guitar accompanied her soft singing, it wasn’t enough to overpower the unfortunate talking coming from the crowd. People at the barricade remained entranced with the stage while others in the back of the venue and balcony tried to shush nearby chatter. It seemed that many were waiting for the key song, the final moment, where Faye would bring out the trending “Kingston.” As she did, the crowd unified in cheers and watched a smile return to her face. Now wearing an oversized suit jacket, she cupped her ear and tilted her head towards the audience; she called “He said ‘Baby,’” for them to respond, in full force, “That’s what he called me.” Captured by her sweetness and the style of the pedal steel, Boston once again fell in love with Faye Webster in a new, electric way.