Photos and Review by: Allyssa Arens
Venue: Beer City Music Hall, Oklahoma City, OK
Date: March 22, 2023
Softcult is currently in the midst of their first North American headlining tour, bringing their blend of grunge, pop, and indie to audiences across the United States and Canada. On March 22, I had the pleasure of catching the band perform at Beer City Music Hall in Oklahoma City for a show that was full of attitude and anti-patriarchy sentiments.
Opening the show was OKC’s own Keathley and the Burning Bras, and they started the night off on an angsty note as Keathley serenaded the crowd with her gorgeous, slightly raspy vocals. Their set was very vibey, and felt like music that one would either put on to stare dreamily out the window or to cry alone in their room, in the best possible way. The set ended on a more aggressive note as they closed with Xombie, from 2022’s Burning Bras EP. This was my first exposure to Keathley’s music, and I look forward to watching them grow in the local scene and beyond.
Next up were Soft Blue Shimmer, who kept the dreamy vibes going their entire set as they played selections from their discography, including picks from 2020’s Heaven Inches Away and 2022’s Love Lives in the Body. The LA-based indie outfit, consisting of vocalist and bassist Meredith Ramond, vocalist and guitarist Charlie Crowley, and drummer Kenzo Cardenas, had everyone in the room swaying along during their entire performance and enjoying every second. While I don’t often find myself gravitating toward bands that use shoegaze as a genre descriptor, I did in fact find myself captivated by Soft Blue Shimmer’s music, and highly recommend checking them out, especially if you are searching for tunes that are super chill and vibey.
Finally, Softcult took the stage, further enthralling the crowd with a sound that I would classify as “bubble grunge”. It’s a genre term that I had never heard of until Spotify Wrapped one year, (since Spotify loves to make up new and obscure genre classifications), but it absolutely fits here as Softcult seamlessly blends a punk rock attitude with sludgy production while also feeling somewhat danceable. Though I was loosely familiar with Softcult’s existence due to having followed previous projects from founding members and siblings Mercedes and Phoenix Arn-Horn, it was only within the past few months that I began giving them a listen, and their live show has guaranteed them a spot in my regular rotation. The set kicked off with “Spit it Out” from 2022’s Year of the Snake EP before taking it back to 2021’s Year of the Rat with “Another Bish”, “Gloomy Girl”, and “Take It Off”. Nearly everyone in attendance was either dancing or headbanging along at different points in the set, myself included!
One moving but heart-wrenching moment came halfway through the set as lead vocalist and guitarist Mercedes introduced their song “BWBB” (Boys Will Be Boys) by explaining that the song was written in dedication to Sarah Everard, a UK woman who was murdered by a police officer simply for walking home back in 2021, and the countless other women who have faced similar tragedies. A common theme in the group’s music and their live set is the importance of women’s rights and consent; that women do not exist for men and should not be blamed when many issues can actually be traced back to problems with how men are raised, such as young males being allowed to get away with sexist behaviors under the guise of “boys will be boys”.
Softcult are preparing to drop their third EP, See You in the Dark on March 24, and they closed their set with “Dress” and “One of a Million” from this forthcoming release. “Dress” discusses the importance of consent, through the memorable chorus line “It’s a dress, not a yes, not a fucking invitation”, while “One of a Million” is about being true to yourself. It’s not often that I feel this excited about a band after watching them play, but I am truly excited to see what this year and the future hold for Softcult, and I will absolutely be streaming the heck out of See You in the Dark this weekend.
Softcult’s North American dates wrap up on March 31 in Toronto, then the band is heading to the UK, Europe, and Asia in the coming months. All upcoming tour dates can be found here.