16th May | Thekla
Photos: Jessica Bartolini
Four years after her debut album, Before We forgot How To Dream, twenty-three-year-old Bridie Monds-Watson, aka SOAK, made her long-awaited return this year with her excellent follow-up record, Grim Town. After being very impressed with her music, and mature, powerful songwriting, I was excited to see her perform tracks from the new album live, and what better place to do so than at Thekla.
With an unusually early start time, support for the night came from Dublin’s Pillow Queens. They entertained the audience with a fun and upbeat half-hour set of infectious indie-rock. I had not come across their music before, but after their performance, I’m very much looking forward to them coming back to play in Bristol in the future.
Pillow Queens interposed their songs with some very funny banter with the crowd, as well as with SOAK and her band, who it turns out had beat them at football but lost to them at swimming earlier in the day. Pillow Queens pointed out that the bands had even left their swimming costumes hanging out to dry on the front of their tour bus. I would definitely recommend checking out Pillow Queens’ music if you haven’t heard them before, and I can see an exciting future for them.
I was surprised the crowd wasn’t bigger, but everyone there gave SOAK and her band a very warm reception. They took to the stage to ‘all aboard’, an introductory recording from Grim Town of Bridie’s grandfather playing the role of a train announcer welcoming listeners to the journey they are about to embark upon throughout the album. SOAK possesses an incredible stage charisma and confidence for somebody so young, and had the audience hooked throughout her seventy-five minute set.
She had a natural and friendly rapport with the crowd. One audience member exclaimed excitedly that it was her birthday and she couldn’t have asked for a better present than coming to see SOAK. It was also a nice surprise to see PINS member, Sophie Galpin playing guitar as part of SOAK’s touring band too.
Highlights of the set included singles ‘Déjà Vu’ (which I still have not managed to get out of my head since hearing it at this gig), ‘Knock Me Off My Feet’, ‘Valentine Shmalentine’ and ‘Blud’, a song inspired by her parents’ divorce. Her encore included an emotional rendition of Grim Town’s lead single ‘Everybody Loves You’, which went down a storm.
This was an extremely rewarding night, and despite having enjoyed the album immensely, I was still taken aback at what an excellent live performer SOAK is. I could happily have listened to another half hour, as the seventy-five minute set flew by in no time. I would wholeheartedly recommend catching SOAK live if you get the chance, and I hope her audiences continue to grow, because she deserves it.
See the video for ‘Knock Me Off My Feet’ here: