During my time at Cornell, I never imagined that I would utter the words, “There’s an indie rock concert at Bailey Hall.” This sentence also surprised a lot of my friends; after all, as we’ve learned, the stage should belong to Prof. Bruce Monger and his loving devotion to our climate.
Soccer Mommy is the stage name of Nashville-born and NYU-educated singer/songwriter Sophie Allison, whose influences range from Taylor Swift to Mitski. As heard in her sophomore album color theory, Allison occupies a space in between these two artists, combining the heart-on-sleeve style of Swift’s songwriting with the ferocious soul of Mitski. The album shows the artist in her prime songwriting form, adopting a cleaner sound that bolsters her pure voice.
My friend and I were pleasantly surprised when the crowd rose to its feet as the concert began (though I must admit, it was entertaining to find that one girl remained seated swiping left on Tinder throughout the concert). This crowd was not one to watch sitting down; these Green Dragon regulars had all made their way to Bailey Hall to make it their own 1,300-seat Bowery Ballroom.
Allison kicked off her setlist with the same trilogy of songs that begin color theory, with her band giving new life to her iconic music. Lead single “circle the drain,” the second song in this trilogy, sounded less somber and a bit more brash. Gone is the more subdued sound of her newest album, and in its place were more raw but more propulsive tones, bolstered by the heightened presence of electric guitars. I probably should have been expecting this. At one point, Allison introduced a song by simply saying “this song is about the devil,” to which the crowd erupted into enthusiastic applause.
The band frequently jumped between Allison’s latest output and her older music, with standouts from both sides of her discography dispersed throughout the setlist. Older songs, which were often more upbeat, fit the live lineup perfectly, which made for some of the highlights of the concert. “Cool,” a song off of Soccer Mommy’s 2018 record Clean, sounded particularly strong, perfectly capturing Allison’s yearning to become just what the title implies.
The latter half of the concert showcased Soccer Mommy’s more effective songwriting. Midway through this half, the band exited the stage, leaving Allison alone with her guitar. She then began to play the first song “Henry” and then segued into a song off of her latest record called “night swimming,” which is one of my personal favorites from her catalog. Perhaps it was the stark contrast that these two songs provided in comparison to those that preceded them, but I found both songs, “night swimming” in particular, to be the strongest moments of the concert. We all got the chance to sit down, take a breather and listen to Sophie Allison rather than her stage identity.
As “night swimming” concluded and the band returned to the stage, we all rose once again for “yellow is the color of her eyes,” which proved to be the crowd’s personal favorite. The song, which deals with the terminal illness that Allison’s mother had developed as Allison was growing up, beautifully closed the concert.
As “yellow is the color of her eyes” was heading into its climax, I remembered my first time listening to Soccer Mommy. Though I wouldn’t consider myself a die-hard fan (I leave that designation to Tinder girl), I appreciate her honesty and apparent devotion to crafting a melody that would stay in my ear even days after listening to it. And while the sound she presented in Bailey Hall was different from the one she explores on color theory, her freewheeling indie spirit remained constant throughout the concert, much to the joy of the crowd and to myself.
PJ Brown is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at [email protected].