Written By | Nathan Washington
It’s Monday night at Howler Melbourne, and fans are heavily anticipating a night of gorgeous vocal performances and killer tunes from Nashville native and indie pop artist Sophie Allison, better know by her stage name Soccer Mommy, fresh off a successful bout of Falls Festival performances. In her last show in Australia before embarking on a big US tour, Soccer Mommy has brought along Melbourne locals Kelso to set the mood for the night with some dreamy indie pop before captivating fans with her unique voice and catchy riffs.
Opening up the night to an already crowded audience, Kelso emerge onto stage to begin a sweet but powerful set, combining acoustic and electric guitar licks with gorgeous and lush synth swells that wash over a slowly swaying audience.
Lead singer Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich (nicknamed Kelso), the inspiration for the band name, provides textured and unique vocals over the guitar of Xavier Noonan and the keys/synthesiser of Gab Strum, better known as Melbourne solo artist Japanese Wallpaper. Together they make a wonderful eclectic trio, all well loved in the Melbourne music scene, and genuinely entertain the audience through their introspective tunes and quirky anecdotes between songs. The lavish synths compliment the soft vocal style perfectly as the band runs through original tracks and covers alike, highlighting their set with their most recent single Glitter, completely captivating the audience with clean electric guitar and harmonised backing vocals. After what feels like a lot longer than half an hour, Kelso bid the audience goodnight to great applause, having made more than a few fans in the process and given attendees a magical start to the night.
By the time Soccer Mommy walks onto stage, band in tow, Howler Melbourne is a full house, everyone excited to see the talented young Nashville act. At only 21, it is rare to see somebody with such a large audience on a first headline tour of the country, but Sophie Allison is not your average young adult, having started uploading dreamy indie pop tracks to her Bandcamp back in 2015 before gaining the support of a passionate fan base. As the band begins their first song with a moody instrumental section before transitioning into an upbeat dance track, it is clear to see why she has her following.
Her amazing voice reverberates through the venue above a funky bass-line and lead guitar riff, getting the audience moving and singing. Playing a combination of older material and songs off her 2018 album Clean, Allison appeals to new and old fans alike, showing her charming and down to earth personality in between songs. When an audience member shouts out about visiting South Australia’s capital city Adelaide on her next Australian tour, she admits she has no idea what or where it is, as the Melbourne crowd erupts in laughter, the band all joining in. For such a young artist, she has wonderful stage presence and confidence, sharing plenty of dry humour with fans as the night continues on.
The set rolls on with some higher energy tunes as the lighting puts on a technicolor visual spectacle, before the backing band departs off stage and Soccer Mommy takes a quieter turn, performing some powerful ballads and enthralling the audience with her voice on every line and hook. This is the most intimate part of the night, Allison singing her heart out with adoring fans looking on and mouthing along to every word. Then, the band is welcomed back up for a few more songs and the light show continues, playing through fan favourite tracks complete with dreamy vocals and guitar solos, tight drumming and bass pulling everything together. The finale song of the set ends with all members surrounding the drum kit, playing wildly and clearly having a great time together. Soccer Mommy heads off stage, before shortly returning for a final solo song as an encore, her contemplative hit Wildflowers. Quickly becoming a singalong for all fans in the venue, the soft floating guitar of the track washes over the audience accompanied by more of her trademark vocals. Finally, she thanks fans and departs off stage for a final time.
Overall, it was another amazing night of music at Howler Melbourne, with local support act Kelso holding their own and setting the mood for a passionate and endearing performance from Soccer Mommy and her band, a fitting end to her first Australian headline tour. At only 21 years of age, she is already a talented and accomplished musician, and it would not be surprising to see many headlines in the future to come, especially with her adoring Australian fan base in support.