“Chill but kinda sad” is the self-described music style of Soccer Mommy, a Nashville-based indie group that came to San Antonio for the first time last weekend. Lead singer and songwriter Sophie Allison writes lyrics that cut like a knife, singing about raw emotion and heartbreak, something that any sad college student can relate to.
Soccer Mommy is mid-tour for their new record “Clean.” The album has received stellar reviews, by people far more qualified to review music than I am. In fact, there’s really not much that I can say about her and the other pioneering, women-led rock groups that hasn’t already been said. But what I want to talk about is my experience watching one of my new favorite bands perform live.
I saw Soccer Mommy live in Houston sometime in February, so I knew what to expect from this concert. At that point, I liked her music, but wasn’t the kind of fan that knew every song and followed her and her boyfriend/guitarist bandmate on Instagram (like I am now). After listening to her and other female-fronted indie rock bands, I was stoked to see she was coming back to Texas, and only a short Uber ride away from campus.
I was initially going to go with my friends who are much more well-versed in alternative and punk music, but I ended up being the only one free that Saturday night. I showed up to the 502 Bar, got my X’s marked on my hands and walked in with my t-shirt, shorts and Chacos. The bar is very small and intimate, making it a cool venue for a live music show. I was really excited when I realized how close I would be to them. I was less excited when I realized how close I would be standing to random guys trying to talk to me. Maybe I’ll write another article one day about concert etiquette.
Madeline Kenney opened for Soccer Mommy and got everyone in the mood to rock out. I hadn’t heard of her before, but I liked her sound — the same kind of emotional, distorted, guitar-driven indie rock that I liked about Soccer Mommy. The Oakland-based artist also said she had a “piece of advice” for the audience.
“Women aren’t a genre of music.”
Both Kenney and Allison mentioned their frustrations with the music industry, and how women guitarists and songwriters aren’t held to the same standards as men are. They want their music to be appreciated for their talent, not just because they’re women.
Beyond that, Soccer Mommy sings about heartbreak, misery, growing up and finding out who she wants to be. Her lyrics go from crying out in anguish, like a wounded bird in a cage, to angrily asking for approval and empowerment. Allison’s voice is unpolished, emotional, yet clear — reaching out into the void to anyone who wants to listen. It’s complimented perfectly by Julian Powell, her boyfriend/guitarist, as he strums gently in the background.
As I stood only a few feet away from Soccer Mommy, I felt like I was taking a looking glass to Allison’s heart. It was as if she was looking right at me and opening up her wounds.
On Saturday night, Soccer Mommy performed some of my favorite songs that both break my heart and make me feel whole. In “Waiting for Cars,” she sings, “I want to know what’s real/What’s been purified to heal/My wounds.” One of her latest songs, “Still Clean,” reminisces about the end of a summer fling, saying “[you] left me drowning/Once you picked me out your bloody teeth.”
As I stood in the crowd, smiling, singing along and swaying to the gentle music, I thought of how universal the feelings of heartache and suffering are, and how grateful that someone was brave enough to add a guitar, bass and drums to her deepest, most personal thoughts.
I highly recommend looking into the new wave of indie and rock music by women, if you aren’t familiar with it. Some of my favorites besides Soccer Mommy are Snail Mail, Chastity Belt and Vagabon. And of course, to give credit where credit is due, I’d like to thank my cool, long-haired friend from Nashville for enlightening me on punk girls.