Live Review: Soccer Mommy & Night Shop - Castle Hotel, Manchester 04/03/2018
Support came from Night Shop, who jumped on stage alone accompanied by only an acoustic guitar. He opened with ‘Heaven’, which is dominated by the lyrics “somebody just talk to me”, which instantly made me feel bad about not talking to him when I saw him alone before the gig. Other songs ‘Your City’ and ‘So Smart’ included heartfelt messages about mundane everyday life, which were both relatable and beautifully delivered.
If for whatever reason the whole of the Juno soundtrack needed to be recorded by only one artist (yes, that brilliant film from 2007!), I would nominate Night Shop to do that job. Sitting somewhere curiously in-between the sound of Arcade Fire crossed with The Vaccines a twist of Dan Auerbach and those little jolly songs off Juno, these happy yet sad vibes definitely leave you wanting more. Night Shop, aka Justin Sullivan an ex drummer, is a crowd pleaser and showed no nerves with his witty yet raw five song set list. “I haven’t played by myself many times in my life” laughing and joking throughout his short set he revealed he doesn’t usually play by himself. With only five songs on Spotify, it will be great to see where Night Shop will go in the future, I would love to see how the full band perform the songs showcased during the performance.
Castle Hotel quickly filled up and Soccer Mommy took to the stage. Soccer Mommy is the project of Sophie Allison, a 20-year-old from Nashville, her touring members include a full band consisting of guitarist (and boyfriend) Julian Powell and bassist Graeme Goetz. With no backstage area, each member of the band has to wade through the crowd in order to get to the stage, (the venue is no bigger than a living room you would find in a two-bed terraced house) this was soon mentioned by the band. Along with some other jokes throughout the set about things including UK water bottles and cigarette packets and how nobody emails on a Sunday - take note! The intimate venue made the gig a whole different experience, the band were talking in between songs, which provoked positive heckles and audience participation.
Talking of Juno earlier, Sophie Allison hugely reminds me of actress Ellen Page, both in looks and style, pulling off a similar tomboy look with confidence. It has to be said how effortlessly cool Sophie is, casually wearing a vintage jumper, jeans and docs, styled together with bright pink eyeshadow. Not entirely sure where the stage name ‘Soccer Mommy’ came from, but perhaps this is traditional ‘soccer mom’ attire, cool but casual, with pink eyeshadow to add a little glamour for the school run. Nonetheless, I love it, it’s iconic and inspiring to see female artists smashing it in the music industry.
Often defining her musical style as ‘chill but kinda sad bedroom indiepop’, Soccer Mommy stuck to her routes and gave a chilled and laid-back vibe during the gig. Playing new album tracks including ‘Cool’, ‘Your Dog’ and ‘Still Clean’, the crowd allowed room for listening, whilst swaying and singing along. The rest of the band went offstage so Sophie could play a few solo songs, this acted as an encore. When the rest of the band returned they played one final song together, before leaving the stage again for good. Confused by the rejigging of members, the crowd insisted on another song! Sophie played a final solo track, the much loved ‘Allison’, before leaving the stage to huge applause.
Although her debut album has been recorded professionally, she is known for starting out in her bedroom, which you wouldn’t have guessed with the amount of confidence she has on stage. The intimacy of the venue meant that Sophie was able to engage with the audience more personally, laughing and joking throughout the set. Regardless of the small venue, Sophie and the rest of the band owned the stage proving that she wouldn’t look lost in a bigger venue. This was perfect Sunday evening entertainment!
It’s so great to see female fronted bands being successful, with sounds like Honeyblood and Wolf Alice, Soccer Mommy is definitely one to watch. In support of the debut album, Soccer Mommy will be back for a brand-new UK tour in September, be sure not to miss it!
Photography and words by Abbie Jennings