26th July | Crofters Rights

Adult Mom is the ill-fitting band name used by the US’s Stephanie Knipe. Watching them play a gig is a fun time, a bit like meeting somebody who becomes an instant friend – except they’re up on stage, and talking to everybody else too, and then you never see them again. A bit like that.

Soot Sprite is usually a shoegaze three-piece, but tonight it’s just vocalist Elise Cook holding the fort. There’s a vulnerability to the sound – Elise sings with her eyes fixed to her guitar while she releases the raw, solo tracks. She has a lilting voice, which floats through the clouds of stage smoke. One can feel how it might complement the warm fuzz of the full band, but it still holds fast in this solo effort.

Her fragility of tone pierces through the glooming chords. The music also has a morbidity to it; mention of cemeteries and murder evokes Twin Peaks, or maybe Nicole Dollanganger. Outside it’s been a roasting hot day, yet inside Crofters feels autumnal. A soothing and solid opening.

Adult Mom, too, is a one-person, one-guitar act; their band has also stayed home today (although home is across the Atlantic, not Exeter). Being a bedroom-style indie act, this is no problem at all; there weren’t so many layers to lose anyway. There’s even a little bit of American country-like feeling coming out. They speak-sing a lot, which to my surprise works quite well; it’s impressive how easily they can transition between a high note and a sarcastic comment.

Steph stares up into Crofters disco ball while they sing ‘Frost’, an unreleased track. They smile, and look as though they’re singing straight from memories… but then: “Well, that song was a bummer.” Steph teems with onstage humour, lampooning the “trash” US – compared to lovely clean Bristol, and commenting on social acceptance of fart conversation – “but don’t, it’s too enclosed!”

‘I Make Boys Cry’ from early EP Sometimes Bad Happens is very authentic to listen to. Similarly, coming-out song ‘Survival’ comes directly from their lived experience. The mood of the room at the track’s start is friendly, and joyful, riding high on Steph’s stage banter and wide smiles. By the end of the track, it’s much more sombre, having heard their lamentation on – perhaps – losing a mother’s love. It’s possible this was the desired effect, though: Steph regales us about teaching and performing being so similar – “You’re just trying to get them to shut up!”

Some of Adult Mom’s tracks are a little samey. It’s difficult to find intricate differences between tracks that are missing half their instrumentation and all the percussion. The simplicity of the gig is no crime, though. When they’ve got the whole audience – with some persuasion – singing along to ‘There She Goes’ by The La’s, it doesn’t seem to matter so much. All we’re bothered about is enjoying ourselves, and Adult Mom has managed that alright.

See the video for ‘Drive Me Home’ here: