Friday, July 21, was a remarkable night for guitar pop aficionados at The Fillmore in San Francisco. Soccer Mommy, Stef Chura, and The Drums comprised a bill of bands with a penchant for melodic earworms and infinitely danceable grooves.
Soccer Mommy, the project of nineteen-year-old Sophie Allison, kicked the night off. Allison has already espoused quite a discography, including an impressive full length release, For Young Hearts (2016). Her music oscillates from tightly arranged bedroom pop to bleeding heart fingerpicked numbers, both showcasing candid vulnerability and never shying from the intimate. Soccer Mommy’s Collection (2017) is due for release on Fat Possum later this summer and if their performance was any indication of the forthcoming album, it’s going to be wonderful.
Taking the second opening slot was grunge-y rocker Stef Chura backed by a bassist and a drummer. Chura performed songs from her addictive full-length Messes (2017) released earlier this year, including “You” and “Spotted Gold.” Her vocals were a particular stand-out of the night — a warbly alto somewhere in between Angel Olsen and Gwen Stefani. Stef Chura embodied the trope of the night with a humble, yet commanding, stage presence.
The Drums, a project which has drawn heavy comparisons to The Smiths since its first release in 2009, headlined the show. Abysmal Thoughts (2017), released earlier this July, marks the first Drums album without the influence of founding member Jacob Graham. Like the iconic 80s pop groups they draw stylistically on, they follow suit with inter-band tensions. Pierce and Graham have both been forthcoming about their struggles working together for several years now. It came as no surprise when Graham announced he was leaving for good.
Ever the style icon, frontman Jonny Pierce strolled out in a sequined tracksuit overlaid with a short sleeve button down. Armed with severe eyes and a mic, the set began with “I’ll Fight For Your Life.” Pierce has a hypnotizing presence, dancing like Elvis on dissociatives as he belted every word along with the crowd. Cult favorites “Best Friend,” “Days,” “Let’s Go Surfing,” and “Money” were especially crowd pleasing. Fans also shouted the lyrics to the new songs “Heart Basel,” “Mirror,” “Head of the Horse,” “Blood Under My Belt,” and “Rich Kids.”
After “Days,” Jonny Pierce took a moment to explain the song’s meaning, mentioning, “there’s a time for empathy and trying to educate those who disagree with you and there’s a time to know when to let people go.” It seemed this message struck a chord with several showgoers, as one-by-one over a dozen people leaped up on the stage to wrap their arms around Pierce in an embrace. Before delving into “How it Ended,” Pierce deemed the night “incredibly special” due to the presence of his boyfriend and boyfriend’s family. It seems as though he has found a quite a muse in this devastatingly handsome man who graces the cover of Abysmal Thoughts and appears in the “Blood Under My Belt” music video. I have to agree with his qualification of the evening — any night with live music that is engaging and captivating is certainly incredibly special.
Article and photos by Ally Mason