On February 24, Phoebe Bridgers, supported by Nashville’s Sophie Allison under the name Soccer Mommy, performed to a sold-out crowd at Great Scott in Allston. The 23-year old Bridgers released her critically-acclaimed debut album, Stranger in the Alps, on September 22, 2017 on Dead Oceans. Soccer Mommy was also touring ahead of the release of her new full-length, Clean, which came out March 2, 2018 on Fat Possum Records.
Behind the stage hung the Stranger in the Alps album cover, minus the ghost. Red lights cast on the backdrop, turning the blue sky into a variegated sunset of purple and pink. The audience chatted while house music played, and then Soccer Mommy took the stage. “You can all keep talking,” Allison told the audience, laughing, when they suddenly quieted down. She and her touring members, comprised of Julien Powell on lead guitar and Graeme Goetz on drums, tuned up and the evening began.
Allison was strapped with her sparkly-star decorated white guitar as she introduced the audience to a few tracks off her new album, Clean. A few enthusiastic attendees knew all the words to new songs like “Your Dog” and “Cool.” Her performance, much like her music, was honest and real. Her heartfelt performance was the perfect introduction to the raw and haunting music of Phoebe Bridgers.
When Bridgers and her band took the stage, the dichotomy of light and dark followed. The room glowed and glittered, from the warm white string lights wrapped around the mic stand, to Bridgers’ modest black dress and the pearly eyeshadow that lit up her face. Bridgers’ electric guitar was a fusion of these opposing elements: black with a glitter finish, a silver sequined strap, and a rhinestone capo. Her music is full of radiant melodies with glacial vocals, bringing tears to eyes with every fragile sentiment. She wraps the listener up in a silky, frosty web of little conversations with loved and loathed ones, aching with emotion, or with numbness. The audience can’t help but be swept up by her mesmerizing presence.
Bridgers’ performances not only showcase her own talent, but promote the talent of her tour friend, Soccer Mommy. Bridgers’ co-writer and drummer Marshall Vore seems to be Soccer Mommy’s most devoted fan. In any lull between songs, Vore would take the opportunity to voice his love for their tour mates, making fake threats to the audience: “Soccer Mommy isn’t your favorite band” or “If you don’t buy a Soccer Mommy t-shirt after the show…” and so on. Bridgers’ keyboardist, guitarist, and bassist were all wearing such t-shirts. It’s not often that a headliner will talk about a supporting band with such genuine affection, but it’s clear that to Vore and his bandmates, Soccer Mommy isn’t simply an opener. This happened to be Soccer Mommy’s last night of the tour, and it was clear that both bands were melancholy at saying goodbye (for now). Bridgers herself took the chance to thank and praise them, and then segued into the next song. “I just talked about a lot of people I like,” she said, “Now I’m gonna play a song about someone I don’t like,” and with that the band launched into “Motion Sickness,” the sanguine radio hit from Stranger in the Alps.
This particular show was special, in part because it was Soccer Mommy’s last show of the tour, but also because of a certain friend that Bridgers invited to the stage. Fans were in for a treat when the album’s duet, “Would You Rather,” was performed just as it is on the record—featuring Conor Oberst, the founding member of the Omaha indie band, Bright Eyes. Oberst came along for several tour dates, including this one. When the time came, he hopped up on stage, where Bridgers introduced him as “my friend Conor.” Oberst wove his voice into Bridgers’, and when the song ended, he promptly descended back into the dense crowd. He wasn’t the only friend to take the stage during her set. Oberst and Soccer Mommy both joined Bridgers and her band for the last song of the evening, which wasn’t an original, but rather a top-ten hit from 1996. Audience members old and young came in strong on the chorus of “If It Makes You Happy,” a cover of the Sheryl Crow classic. Bridgers told the audience that she didn’t want the show to end on a low note, and this song was the perfect antidote.
Soccer Mommy is the project of Sophie Allison, with touring members Julien Powell (lead guitar) and Graeme Goetz (drums). She’ll be returning to Great Scott on May 1. Check out her new album, Clean, on Fat Possum Records. You can listen here: https://sopharela.bandcamp.
Phoebe Bridgers’ full-length debut, Stranger in the Alps, is out now on Dead Oceans. Her tour resumes in April, so check out her site for dates and more: phoebefuckingbridgers.com.