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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Soccer Mommy picks up the Majestic, drives it home

With new tracks and familiar highlights, Soccer Mommy put on a show that had the crowd begging for just five more minutes.

On a weekend with no shortage of things to do in Madison, the scene outside the Majestic on Saturday was still bustling. Fans, a mixture of college-aged kids and adults, some clad in costume, some not, lined up outside the theater to see Soccer Mommy perform. 

Madison was the second stop on the North America leg of Sophie Allison’s — aka Soccer Mommy — “Touring, Forever” tour. In June, the 25-year-old Nashville native released her newest album, “Sometimes, Forever,” to much critical acclaim. The record continues her transition from the smooth, coming-of-age pop of her earlier releases to the darker, more mature sound of her newer work that increasingly flirts with the tones of shoe-gazey reverb and discordant guitars. 

Lightning Bug, an alternative rock band from New York, opened the show. They filled the theater with a nostalgic, atmospheric sound that had the audience swaying along. 

Soccer Mommy’s new sound was evident from the moment she stepped on stage. The room reverberated with dreamy, psychedelic noise that bridged the silence between songs. 

Those who knew and loved Soccer Mommy for her catchy, melodic pop ballads from earlier releases might have been caught off guard by the dissonant tunes and darker lyrics that comprised much of the set. But, those in the audience who got it were fully and truly engrossed — evident in their mouthing along and head-banging to the rhythmic drumbeat and strong bass in songs like “Unholy Affliction” and “Darkness Forever.”

When the singer played her classics, everyone was on the same page. Her beloved anthems like “Circle the Drain” and “Scorpio Rising” were greeted with electric cheers. The crowd, mostly young adults, bounced along as they belted bittersweet lyrics about burnout and complicated relationships — stories that struck chords with the sea of fans. 

Allison herself was mostly quiet between songs but occasionally stopped to compliment the audience’s Halloween costumes — she herself was dressed as a vampire. She also made sure to thank the venue and the opener. 

The band threw glow sticks into the crowd before announcing her next song, “Lucy.” 

“This one’s about the devil,” Allison proclaimed before crooning out tongue-in-cheek, satanic-themed lyrics bathed in fittingly spooky lighting.

As her set winded down, Soccer Mommy performed some slower songs. This started with a solo acoustic rendition of “Still Clean” from her 2018 album, “Clean.” Her sweet, melodic voice was utilized to the fullest as she repeated the melancholy refrain — “I was only what you wanted for a little while” — to a quietly entranced audience. 

The next song, “Still,” was the most soulful of the night. Telling the story of her relatively new fame, the song candidly encapsulated the complicated tumult of emotions Allison explores throughout “Sometimes, Forever.” 

The concert finished on a lively note as Soccer Mommy performed a memorable encore with twin bangers that were a mixture of the old and the new. “Don’t ask Me” and “Your Dog” had the catchy riffs and clever lyrics to be a fitting way to end the night.

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While she didn’t spend a lot of time interacting with fans, it was clear Soccer Mommy's focus was on curating the perfect sound in the space. She and her band switched or tuned guitars between nearly every song. Her dedication paid off; I found the music pleasantly hypnotic even when the show wasn’t the most high-energy.

Soccer Mommy’s tour is just beginning and will continue to make its way through the Midwest with shows in Minneapolis and Chicago before heading down the East Coast. Her newest single, “Darkness Forever (Sophie’s Version),” is out now, and it’s a funky, festive listen.

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