Live Review: Soccer Mommy @ Rams Head Live — 3/23/22

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Sophia Regina Allison leads Soccer Mommy in a performance at Rams Head Live in Baltimore on March 23, 2022. (Photo by Casey Vock)

Growing up in one of this country’s hotbeds of music and culture with a guitar in hand would seem a natural pathway for a young artist to chart their own course and some day, maybe earlier than might be expected, advance their sounds to the right kind of listeners.

Sophia Regina Allison was just a little kid when she began playing music, having relocated to Nashville of all places after being born thousands of miles away in Switzerland. A story that almost reads as storybook but yet is so freakishly modern, Allison would go on to study guitar as a student at the Nashville School of the Arts and not long after she graduated was recording music that she’d post to Bandcamp under the artist name Soccer Mommy.

Though she’d end up leaving New York University after a couple of years, it was there that she first performed under the same moniker she’d used on Bandcamp and during that time she put out her first full-length album as Soccer Mommy, 2016’s For Young Hearts.

Stream Soccer Mommy’s 2020 studio album, color theory, via Spotify:

Like many of the greatest college dropout success stories go, it proved to be the right choice for Sophia, who now at just 24 years old is one of indie rock’s most influential voices, one that is likely inspiring young artists in the same way she herself was emboldened upon listening to the first album she ever purchased — Avril Levigne’s Under My Skin.

Allison brought Soccer Mommy to Baltimore the night of March 23 as part of a current tour zig-zagging the band all over the map, including into Quebec. The local stop at Rams Head Live turned out to be a stirring evening that positioned this band as a polished, convincing platform not just for Sophia’s tender, evoking delivery, but for the gripping, volatile instrumental thrusts that move Soccer Mommy songs to powerful ascensions of rock and pop.

Covering a broad spectrum of mood and showcasing the other fine musicians on the stage, the dreamy, transportive set opened with a pensive take on “bloodstream” from the acclaimed 2020 album titled color theory, with this song eventually distorting toward grunge or garage rock as it trailed off and gave way to the console of the revolving “circle the drain,” another track that seemed to carefully invite the audience into the night.

But with “royal screw up,” the third played in its studio album sequence, Sophia clearly began coaxing ticketholders into a realm a bit more treacherous, with the frenzied contrast of guitars echoing with a distinct tension.

To her right, Sophia was supported by guitarist Julien Powell, who is also her longtime partner; to her left, also with a guitar but with the additional duties of managing the keyboard, Rodrigo Avendano; on bass, Nick Widener, and in the back on drums, Rollum Haas.

Watch the official video for Soccer Mommy’s 2022 single, “Shotgun,” via the band’s YouTube channel:

Weaving through her still young songbook, Sophia appeared wise beyond her years as a mindful, perceptive stage leader who was quick and professional in offering engaging, intentionally dry banter to the crowd as she went, switching guitars in between songs as fans called out to her like they’d known her for years.

And she was business-like in moving the set along, performing a pounding yet fetching version on “Last Girl” from the 2018 album Clean and a grooving edition of “Henry,” the opening track from the first Soccer Mommy studio release.

The band went into different terrain for “Cool,” with its playfully savage lyrics and its shift into a floating chorus that featured Allison’s voice at its most striking while the instrumentation twisted off with a low fidelity:

“Mary has a heart of coal / She’ll break you down and eat you whole / I saw her do it after school / She’s an animal / She won’t ever love no boy / She’ll treat you like a fucking toy / She’ll break your heart and steal your joy, like a criminal.”

Stream Soccer Mommy’s 2018 album, Clean, via Spotify:

Reinforcing this group as largely built around the sounds of the electric guitar, three of them were featured on stage for what translated to an ambient, cathartic take on “night swimming” as Allison performed it with only Julien and Rodrigo on stage with her.

A much-anticipated song as indicated by the audience’s enthusiasm, the band’s newest single, “Shotgun,” was another track that seemed to blend the best sounds of rock and pop going back to the days of the music video, as Sophia has been clear about her goal of extending these vibes and textures to today’s listener.

Watch the official music video for Soccer Mommy’s 2021 single, “rom com 2004,” via the band’s official YouTube channel:

After performing a pair of songs on her own — her presence and her voice glowing off the stage for “Still Clean” and “Dagger,” a cover of one of her favor bands, Slowdive — Sophia brought the band back for what would be an epic, towering edition of “Yellow is the Color of Her Eyes” a masterpiece-level composition that showcases her voice as prototypical pop and the band’s sound as perfect to chart this necessary emotional and musical territory.

Returning for what would be a wildly received encore, Allison served up amplified versions of two fan favorites — the hyper-streamed “Your Dog” and “Scorpio Rising,” which was dedicated, fittingly, to any and all the Scorpios on hand at Rams Head Live.

While Soccer Mommy’s story — Sophia Regina Allison’s story — really began long ago, the band’s momentum, its distinguishable aura and its precise execution bode strong for its future.

Setlist

Bloodstream
Circle the Drain
Royal Screw Up
Last Girl
Henry
Crawling in My Skin
Cool
Lucy
Shotgun
Night Swimming
Still Clean
Dagger (Slowdive cover)
Yellow Is the Color of Her Eyes
Your Dog (encore)
Scorpio Rising (encore)

Here’s images of Soccer Mommy along with the night’s opener, Peel Dream Magazine, performing at Rams Head Live the night of March 23, 2022. All photos copyright and courtesy of Casey Vock.

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Peel Dream Magazine

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