Soccer Mommy

– The Deaf Institute, Manchester –

Entry number 48 in the series ‘How Much Are Young Women With Guitars Kicking Ass Right Now?’ featuring Sophie Allison aka Soccer Mommy. You may have read number 47 in this series a couple of weeks back after I went to see the brilliant Phoebe Bridgers, and I’ll probably write 49-51 when I get to see Snail Mail, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker over the next couple of months too. Because it’s absolutely, 100% true: all these incredible kids on their 1st or 2nd albums are turning out music that just properly rules, and it’s thrilling to see.

Allison is here at the Deaf Institute in support of her debut proper Clean, an album sure to be in and around many a top 10 end of year lists come December. It’s the second time she’s been here this year, playing earlier at the tiny Castle Hotel, which obviously sold out pretty instantly, and since then word of mouth has lead her straight into a sold out gig at the much bigger Deaf; I’m sure she wouldn’t have had trouble selling out something a bit bigger like Gorilla either. Alongside her band (the guitarist of which me and my mate decide looks like no less than 4 different people, including one of the Stranger Things kids and that giant man off The Undatables with the big hair), Allison lets the songs do most of the talking, with endearing in between chat about how this is only the second date of the tour having been to Birmingham which turns into a running joke with the crowd about which city is better (us, obvs).

And what songs they are. She starts with a couple of older songs from her ‘Collection’ album, a, er, collection of songs from her early internet days (‘I’m a Bandcamp artist!’ she proudly declares), before giving Clean a workout – the progression between the two albums marked. ‘Last Girl’ sounds innocent, all jangle pop and light, but belies the teen insecurity of the lyrics beneath the sunny guitar chords, ‘she’s so sweet and she’s so pretty/ even more than me’ and ‘why would you still want to be with me?/ she’s got everything you need’, and it’s during these songs that you remember that this ultra-talented woman on stage in front of you is just twenty years old. ‘Your Dog’ is full of bite, ‘I don’t wanna be your fucking dog/ that you drag around’, ‘I want a love that lets me breathe/ I’ve been choking on your leash’; ‘Cool’ is just an absolutely perfect pop song that in an alternate, maybe mid 90s reality, was number 1 for four weeks in summer.

Halfway through, the band exit and leave Allison alone, the solo section. She starts with a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘I’m On Fire’; now, dear readers, a confession: I cannot stand Bruce Springsteen. I just can’t get along with him, and his whole schtick does my head in, but let me tell you, Soccer Mommy, with just an electric guitar for company, made me love him. Well, not him, but for 4 minutes, one of his over earnest songs sounded absolutely magnificent. I don’t know whether to hate or praise Allison for this tbh. She then does ‘Still Clean’ which is utterly gorgeous and heartbreaking, her voice crystal clear and innocent, it’s stunning. The band rejoin the stage for a wig-out run through ‘Scorpio Rising’, before the briefest of encores for ‘Waiting For Cars’, and she’s gone, leaving behind and excitedly chatting exiting crowd who all can’t quite believe how someone that young could be quite so good. It’s going to be really exciting watching this group of women evolve and make more music over the next few years, I can’t wait to see what Allison comes up with next.

Finally, a quick shoutout to support act Brooke Bentham who wowed us with her brilliant voice, solo with a guitar, and armed with a handful of great sounding tracks – check her out on Apple Music (other streaming platforms are available).

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