Published Apr 29, 2018Sophie Allison almost missed her soldout Toronto show. The face of indie pop project Soccer Mommy told the crowd at Longboat Hall Saturday night that she had forgotten her passport before departing on headlining dates in support of last month's Clean, but "thankfully they let me in. I don't know why."
Soccer Mommy took the stage to "Henry," which saw Allison manoeuvre through delicate melodies while her guitarists upped the ante with zealous guitar tones to enhance the track's recorded energy. She prefaced "Flaw" as one of Soccer Mommy's "chiller" songs, which is hard to discredit from a woman wearing purple Converse shoes and yielding a guitar covered in shiny star stickers, held together by a checkered guitar strap. There's a coolness to Soccer Mommy, a tongue-in-cheek power pop edge that turns every one of her ballads into a sincere banger. Later on, her bandmates exited the stage for one of the evening's highlights — a chilling rendition of Bruce Springsteen's "I'm On Fire" — where Allison added a tasteful melodic shimmer to the song's initial blue collar grit.
Allison engaged in fantastically waggish banter between tunes, with good news to share throughout. A bootleg Avril Lavigne shirt she ordered from Serbia had arrived at her house that morning, her bandmates made a fruitful visit to one of Toronto's many dispensaries (although she asserts that she does not smoke), and she had a delicious meal prior to her set. "It really changes everything when the food is good," teased Allison. "Last time we were in Toronto, we had weird Indian food that tasted like spaghetti sauce."
The vibe Soccer Mommy shared with the crowd was momentarily bruised by a heckler who yelled to "Take it off, baby!" after Allison had commented that her cardigan was making her warm. The entire crowd was quick to scorn and boo the insensitive remark, and she tranquilly replied "I'm going to keep all of my clothes on, and that shouldn't be a debate." While no woman should be held to any sort of behavioural standards when engaging with such misogynistic verbatim, for a 20-year-old, Allison handled the dampening situation with poise beyond her years.
The wisdom Soccer Mommy have cultivated particularly showed when Allison and company played old cut "Try." It was considerate to form a set list with older bits for her devotees, but the material off Clean sounded much stronger in a live setting, making their senior works seem somewhat underwhelming. Otherwise, the only musical stutter was the guitar feedback in last song, "Scorpio Rising." For a set that was mostly crystal-clear and at times even better than their studio works, a moderate blunder can certainly be forgiven.
One-liners like "I don't want to be your fucking dog" might not have been tangible for her influences in early instalments of Lilith Fair, but Soccer Mommy is Allison's world and her audience lived and breathed every syllable of her expression throughout the night. For a moment, Longboat Hall felt unified by the Mary alias of "Cool," smirking through the troupe's story of their cool "stoner girl" peer, and the sonic intimacy of "Still Clean" was all the more enticing in a packed venue. It was clear as Allison strummed through the song's melodic tautness and crooned the bittersweet "I'm only what you wanted for a little while" refrain, Toronto could not disagree with her any more.