Live Review: Soccer Mommy + Squirrel Flower @ Cat’s Cradle Outdoor Stage – September 16th 2021

Soccer Mommy (the performance moniker of Nashville-based singer-songwriter Sophie Allison) released her sophomore album, Color Theory, early last year.  The album was a more complex effort than her major label debut, 2018’s Clean.  Color Theory showcased a musical maturity with heavier subject matter, deeply personal lyrics, and confident arrangements.  The release was critically acclaimed by multiple publications, and Allison had planned to hit the road on tour last year in the wake of the album’s release…  Then Covid-19 hit and things got crazy for everyone.  Now a year later, Soccer Mommy has announced a run of Fall 2021 tour dates.  We were excited to have a reason to get back out and catch some great live music in a relatively safe environment, and we made it a point to catch the second show on the tour at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, NC.

Originally announced for the main room on a Thursday night, the sold-out show was moved to the Cradle’s outdoor stage, on the field directly behind the venue.  The change allowed for some additional last minute ticket sales and provided a safer environment in the face of the Covid-19 Delta variant that has been spreading rapidly across the Country.  Other measures put into place for the safety of both performers and audience members included a request to wear masks at all times, other than when actively eating or drinking, and a requirement that all attendees would be required to show proof of full course of COVID-19 vaccination (with final dose completed at least 14 days prior to the event) along with a valid State ID.  OR a negative COVID test administered by a healthcare professional within 72 hours of the event along with a valid State ID.  While we have heard of many venues and events not actually following through with Covid safety measures, we were pleased to see that the Cradle staff took the health precautions seriously.  They had a Covid and license checkpoint set up to pre-screen fans prior to the gate, and staff actually took the time to match the provided vaccine card or negative test against the provided ID.  The process was orderly and seemed to move quickly, although the very early showtime of 6:15pm may have served to help spread out the arrival of fans…

The overcast skies and fading daylight added a bit of delicate moodiness to the relatively chill vibe of the crowd as Sophie and her bandmates took the stage.  They kicked off with “Bloodstream”, the opening track from Color Theory.  The melodic lo-fi acoustic guitar layered over Sophie’s dreamy vocals provided an ideal slow burning start to the set.  The next two songs, “Circle The Drain”, and “Royal Screw Up” continued to match the track list from the new album, before she dipped back and played “Last Girl”, from 2018’s Clean.  While Soccer Mommy reached across her catalog for songs, the evening was clearly focused on Color Theory, with all but two songs played from the album.  In fact, even the stage was lined with colored bars of blue, yellow, and grey… The symbolic colors used throughout the Color Theory album to identify the heavier lyrical themes with blue representing depression, yellow representing illness, and gray representing various forms of darkness.  While many of the songs touched on the topics of grief and loss, the evening was anything but a somber affair.  Airy and psychedelic vocals, shimmering shoegaze tinted indie-pop, and a bit of ‘90s alternative rock, combined to make the set feel more cathartic than melancholy.

 The crowd was attentive and enthusiastic, cheering loudly as Soccer Mommy closed out her set with a haunting cover of “Dagger” by Slowdive, before ending with “Yellow Is The Color Of Her Eyes” with its gentle acoustic strumming ultimately dissolving into in a scorchingly acidic guitar solo before fading out into the night.  The band would return for a two-song encore of “Your Dog”’ followed by “Scorpio Rising”, sending everyone home both emotional and revitalized.  

Opening the show fell to Squirrel Flower, the stage name of singer-songwriter Ella Williams.  Williams took the stage alone for a number of songs before being joined by her backing band to play a versatile set of dusky hypnotic folk and brooding rock songs.  Her set was gripping as it careened between delicate melancholy and gritty atmospheric drone.

Soccer Mommy + Squirrel Flower @ Cat’s Cradle Outdoor Stage
Photos © Dan Kulpa // Clashdan Photography

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