Phoebe Bridgers Smashing Her Guitar on SNL Was Fun and Cool, Actually

Phoebe Bridgers made her SNL debut this weekend alongside host Dan Levy, performing “Kyoto” and “I Know The End” from her sophomore (and Grammy-nominated) album Punisher. It became quite a topic of conversation when after “I Know The End,” she took off her signature Danelectro baritone guitar and smashed, or attempted to smash, it against an monitor. Sparks flew, both on the monitor and online.

People very quickly had a lot to say, either comparing her to male artists who “did it better” or weird virtue signaling about, like, how this $499 guitar could have fed so many families and how terrible and demonic she was for this action. As if men in music haven’t been doing this for decades with little argument.

There are entire articles dedicated to artists who destroy thousands of dollars worth of equipment and instruments on stage. This is nothing new. It’s fair to say that people don’t care about the cost of the damaged equipment; they care about maintaining a weird bitterness for successful female artists. It’s corny and transparent. 

This guitar was not going to end world hunger or Covid-19. Phoebe Bridgers is not a government official capable of solving every global issue. She is a musician and performer who wanted to have a fun SNL performance. It’s really not that deep.

As fellow musician Adult Mom pointed out in a now-deleted tweet, Bright Eyes did something very similar on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Conor Oberst is inspiration, friend, and collaborator — he’s featured twice on Punisher and they made an entire record together in 2019. The trumpet player, Nate Walcott, even played for this SNL performance. 

At the end of the day, Phoebe let the people know on Twitter that they gave her a fake monitor for smashing. She didn’t damage SNL’s equipment without warning. She also let Danelectro know she was going to do this — they said their guitars were difficult to damage and they were absolutely correct. If anything, this is great marketing for Danelectro. 

In all honesty, to see Phoebe’s talent and performance denigrated just to “the guitar smash” is, frankly, a huge bummer. You can decide to call it cringe regardless of who does it, that’s fine if it’s not your thing, but it’s weird to call it tone deaf for a few retweets or be blatantly sexist about it. It was a fun moment and arguably of the most entertaining moments SNL has given the public in the last several years. 

And we’re all still talking about it, thus giving her more attention, to the point where her album re-entered the top 20 on iTunes.

Stream Punisher.