Soccer Mommy Returns To Ridgewood

“So if you don’t like it, it’s just been a waste of two years of my life,” the young singer songwriter Soccer Mommy told the group of some 250 people, assembled in a church in Ridgewood. Sophia Allison, almost a decade into a career straddling the limits of fuzzy guitar indie pop, was playing her first show in half a year. She was playing, this time, from inside a cavern of fir trees, illuminated by miniature, battery-powered candles, while sitting on a wooden stool. She remained seated for the entire hour, like Joni Mitchell at the Grammy’s. To the crowd, she announced that she’s been recording a new bag of songs, a follow up to her 2022 album “Sometimes, Forever,” an effort that brought her to more Spotify playlists and debuts on places like the “Tonight Show.”  

Trying out new material here was something of a return for Allison; an early profile, in the New York Post (“She’s a young, buzzy, up-and-coming indie musician, but Sophie Allison performs under a decidedly unhip name”) pins “her very first show as Soccer Mommy [to] an audience of 30 at Silent Barn in Ridgewood, Queens.” Things have changed in the years since. Silent Barn has since departed, replaced by Trans-Pecos. Billed by her publicists as a “a return to her roots,” she was now headlining a limited run of solo shows in Ridgewood, Nashville, Chicago and Los Angeles, playing old songs and teasing debut performances. Tickets sold out within minutes. At the door, her team handed bespoke bookmarks made with pressed flowers, reading: Soccer Mommy. She arrived herself, dressed in a white, webbed dress and Doc Martens. Barren from her 16-song set were any from her last major release, the sleek and aforementioned “Sometimes, Forever,” made in collaboration with Daniel Lopatin, the electronic producer who scores Safdie movies and mints out the occasional Weeknd record. She had played those songs for an entire year and it was interesting to watch her decide to give them a rest.

After flexing through a few tracks from her set before then, the pandemic-lost dispatch “Color Theory,” Allison finally turned to the new like “Skin” and the pleasantly angsty folk-pop “Evergreen,” performed for the first time inside the recently- renovated Ridgewood Presbyterian Church, an earnestly DIY spot not unlike the places she started out in the decade before. These days, the church hosts everything from band rehearsals to speeches by the excommunicated “Father Anne,” a leading figure in the move, so far unsuccessful, to get the Catholic Church to recognize woman priests. It was not hard to imagine Allison in this earnest linage, nevertheless. Her direction on these newer tracks, recorded already she says, reminded me of the grunge minimalism of her contemporary Alicia Bognanno, another Nashville singer-songwriter, who records as “Bully.” The two did a song together last year, as it happens. At one point, after debuting the new “Salt and Wound,” Allison’s crowd of earnest fans yelled out some early feedback. 

“We really like it,” they yelled. It was sweet, hearing this kind of cusp-generation-earnesty. She rewarded us with “Driver,” a grungy, almost-pop song about bad driving, held together with zagging Nirvana power chords. The music dipped and soared, taking its roots from everywhere you could imagine in that decade of oversized flannel, sliding through with earnest ease. Next to me, in the front row, sat one of her more earnest fans, wearing thick-rimmed glasses, shivering dramatically at Allison’s every word. Around us, a group had begun pow-wowing on the ground. They were even more thrilled by the older material, collectively singing along to “Wildflowers,” from her indie label debut to “3 AM at a Party,” a track that dates to a 2016 limited release cassette. She closed on another old favorite, her version of the sexually assertive Bruce Springsteen record “I’m On Fire.” When Soccer Mommy sings it, it takes on an abstracted vulnerability, stretching deeply into a long, dark night. 

Ridgewood Presbyterian‘s Stone Circle Theatre is located at 59-14 70th Avenue, in Ridgewood. For more details about more upcoming events, visit their website. 

Photos taken by Andrew Karpan.

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