Review: Soccer Mommy at Brighton Music Hall

The crowd gathered in Brighton Music Hall was older, though there were some teenagers sprinkled throughout, and they filled the space in anticipation of the musicians to come.

Awash in red and orange lights, Ratboys, an indie rock band from Chicago, opened the night. Watching them perform felt as though one had stumbled across a lively jam session in a garage sometime in the 90s or early 2000s, and the closeness of the stage and their smiles and energy only contributed to the intimacy of their performance. The main singer of the group connected with the audience by sharing short introductions to the group’s songs, such as when she noted the song “Elvis Is in the Freezer” was inspired by a cat that died young, and it was a song about “the first time you laugh when you’re sad.” Their energy onstage was fueled by the contrasting personalities of the band members: the main singer’s voice was higher, almost whimsical and childlike as she sang, and it was grounded by the explosive and loud personalities of the drummer and guitarist (“Tell us a secret,” the main singer prompted the guitarist. He answered with his instrument instead). They were comfortable with these differences, working them well, and seeing how they turned to each other onstage, how they had fun with the performance, invited the audience to enjoy it, too. After the concert, in a brief conversation, the main singer of Ratboys shared: “In general, I just really love to tell stories about my life and weird stuff I read on the Internet. It helps me feel like a more compassionate person to just kind of reflect on my experiences and try to empathize with other people, even, like, people who lived one hundred years ago or fictional characters… It’s fun. We’re fun, contemplative, and rock.”

Following Ratboys, a skeleton of a dog was brought to the front of the stage. The transition to the headliner’s performance was further emphasized by the start of a video on the backdrop of the stage. The video, reminiscent of a VHS tape of old video games, began with a titular screen of the name “Soccer Mommy,” and it was followed by images flashing by, including a skyline of the Empire State Building with a falling yellow moon, a brick sidewalk, and the head of the Statue of Liberty. With this backdrop, Soccer Mommy and her accompanying band walked onstage in almost single-file, picked up their instruments, and without a word, started to play. As they played songs from Soccer Mommy’s album Clean, the backdrop of graphics continued to play, illuminating their backs in a bluish light. Soccer Mommy, an indie rock musician from Nashville, was dressed in an almost childlike grunge, wearing pigtails and a long skirt, swaying slightly as she performed songs such as “Last Girl” and “Your Dog.” Her voice was clear against the instruments, the sounds of the band a strong complement to the sweet, almost sad tones of her voice.

After the first songs of the night, Soccer Mommy paused to share anecdotes with the audience, including details about how the skeletons on stage were her pets, as you can’t really have pets on the road. The audience responded with cheers, especially when she grinned and said, “I like it here. You guys know how to have fun.” As she moved between old and new songs, Soccer Mommy remained engaged with the audience, introducing the members of her energetic band. The energy onstage rose as they played “Scorpio Rising,” and it ended with extended guitar riffs, rising and falling and infused with energy. The last two notes of the song rang out, though the audience didn’t stop cheering until Soccer Mommy returned to the stage for an encore. The encore felt like an even greater victory, as Soccer Mommy mentioned it would be the first time “Wildflowers” was played on tour. She closed her eyes as the song neared its end, turning her face from the audience. These last moments felt intimate, as if the audience had been allowed to witness something that wasn’t quite meant for them; this was something to be treasured, something soft and private and fleeting.

Ketura Webb is a DJ for Jazz. Listen to the Record Hospital on weeknights from 10pm to 5am.