Clad in all black and surrounded by glowing rows of television screens, Soccer Mommy seemed every bit a chic indie performer at first glance.
The illusion of sophistication was shattered, however, when Soccer Mommy, also known as Sophia Allison, shouted, “You don’t know how hard it was getting these suits from Macy’s,” while the drummer lazily blew a bubble.
That easygoingness is Allison’s appeal; she capitalizes on being ordinary and fresh, with family in Wyoming and a tight grip on the drabber aspects of life. Her newest album released in 2020, “color theory,” performed Sept. 19 at the 9:30 Club, presents a three-part introspection into the blues of depression, yellows of sickness and grays of loneliness that highlight her signature indie pop sound.
Opening with the gripping “bloodstream,” Allison ruminated on the slippery nature of happiness as the stage was washed in red light. Sea blues and watery greens shimmered from the backdrop for crowd favorites “circle the drain” and “Cool,” while darker songs such as “royal screw up” and “stain” presented the delicate uncertainty of being insecure in a relationship from a dim, gray stage. The gaps between songs were filled with familiar, conversational banter. “I just hit my sweat point!” Allison said at one point while someone in the crowd yelled back, “Blame global warming!”
The intimacy between Allison and her audience was emphasized by the atmosphere of the venue, the 9:30 Club, which played into the casual, girl-next-door attitude Allison embodies. She detailed the ups and downs of yearning in “Henry” with an easy, witty attitude, a tilt of the head and a crease in her forehead. There is never an element of artifice with Allison’s performances; every lyric out of Allison’s mouth is punctuated by an expression that almost feels wrong to observe because it is so genuine. After all, these are her deepest worries and her personal sentiments.
As Allison sang “gray light,” which depicts the suffocating helplessness of reckoning with mortality and her mother’s illness, pounding synths knocked the breath out of listeners. The dim blues of the softly lit television screens hovering above made it feel as though the audience was underwater.
Transitioning into a solo segment, Allison strummed out a few of her more stripped-down songs to a near-silent crowd held in rapture. Illuminated by saturated pink light, she performed a cover of Slowdive’s “Dagger,” a song she claimed she listened to frequently while locked away in the mountains of Wyoming. “Still Clean,” a piece from Allison’s days before a record deal, came on the tail end of an anecdote about performing in bars before becoming a breakout indie star.
“It’s crazy to stand here and play it now,” Allison said, but the audience knew nothing had really changed. She still played her heart out on an engraved guitar with the raw intensity her fans have always known, displaying her vulnerability under colored lights and hand-painted sets. “yellow is the color of her eyes” swirled through oranges and lemony yellows before bathing Allison and her band in white, smoke twirling as they finished their set in a blood rushing guitar session.
Returning for an encore, Allison performed an invigorating rendition of “Your Dog” from her 2018 album “Clean.” Screaming about throwing off an imaginary leash with a crowd full of people was strangely unifying. As Allison brought the night to an official close with the soft, passionate “Scorpio Rising” from the same album, she left the crowd feeling a little lonelier, a little more contemplative and a lot closer to her than before.