- by Tim Sentz Rating: Release Date: Label:
With a name like Soccer Mommy, you’d expect a much older front woman than Sophie Allison. Instead, a fresh-faced, wide-eyed 20-year old took the stage with her band on Sunday in downtown Kansas City to get the crowd ready for Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks. The 35-minute set is further proof that Soccer Mommy intelligently taps into the current trend of directness in indie rock. Their debut album Clean dropped back in March, and it’s full of Elliot Smith-level mournfulness that translated to the live setting well.
My personal favorite from the new album “Your Dog” was one of the major highlights of their set. Allison added a band last year, prior to that it was a solo effort for her bedroom recordings. With the full band, many of these tracks feel fuller and that’s credited to her songwriting skill which gives room to breathe. “Your Dog” sounds smooth, confessional, angry, but still resilient, and the full band compliments her vocals. “Cool” was the other major banger of the evening and was the perfect display of clever booking. A few solo cuts were done prior to the finale, including a cover of Springstein’s “I’m On Fire” showed off her appreciation for the classics with a modest performance. The music industry hasn’t tainted Soccer Mommy yet either, as Allison conversed with the timid crowd between each song and showed a young woman very grateful for the folks who showed up early.
Pavement only lasted about a decade. Since 2001, Stephen Malkmus (with or without his Jicks) have outlasted Pavement, but there’s still the desire to hear the Pavement material live – so it’s not surprising that a majority of the crowd were mostly silent for deep Jick’s cuts. Malkmus took the stage around 9:15 and opened with the crowd pleasing “Jenny and the Ess-Dog” to much cheering, before playing material off the bands newest album Sparkle Hard – “Bike Lane” being the standout with its chugging riffs and sing-a-long chorus.
“Shiggy” also got the crowd hot, being the main ripper for the middle of the set before taking a detour through older material, which is where the set seemed to suffer a little. With the absence of bangers like “Senator” to keep the hungry crowd satiated until the predicted Pavement-covers during the encore, the fans seemed to focus more on their phones than on the music. Even during Sparkle Hard highlights like “Middle America” and “Refute” (longtime Jicks bassist Joanna Bolme took vocal responsibilities from the albums Kim Gordon guest spot) were given little fanfare despite both being some of the best material to come from this outfit in years.
Nevertheless, Malkmus was in top form for the nearly sold out show. His presence on stage has not waned despite nearly 30 years in the business. He still jokes and has fun like he did in the 90s, and while he may not jump around a lot, his antics still feel natural – several times playing his guitar behind his head and never missing a riff. Sparkle Hard is one of the best Jicks records, so it was comforting to hear all of them come off so well live.
The encore’s “Sin Taxi” satisfied the riotous foot stomp demand for a return to stage, but the primary highlight came from a near perfect cover of Pavement’s “In the Mouth of the Desert.” One can’t help but wonder how it feels for a band to get the biggest response from a song only one of them wrote. This isn’t a discredit to the band, more to the crowd. But Malkmus knows his strengths and knows his fans too. With Pavement reunion rumors always circling, it’s a shame that for one night the focus can’t be on the solid post-Pavement career Malkus and his Jicks have created.