Quick post about Soko’s riotous and eventful gig at Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco in Sunday night. It was so many things; dramatic, emotional, effervescent, joyous and heartbreaking.
First came the drama. A visibly annoyed Soko took to the stage, upset and the terrible day she was having. You could see the emotion written all over her face. The odd cheer from the crowd, “we love you,” did nothing to brighten her mood. Indeed, during the opening song tears rolled down her cheek as her band members hugged and consoled her. It was a rare moment. In the 100’s of gigs I have been to in my life I have never seen someone so openly distraught at the start of a gig (not even Kanye after losing his mother only days before playing in London). I genuinely thought she would cancel the show after a couple of songs, unable to deal with the emotion she was feeling. You could sense people holding their breath as they did not know what to expect next. The uncertainty was palpable.
Soko lives through her music. She explained so during the set. When her life is sh*t, it goes in to the music. When her life is great that goes in to the music too. Music also seemed to be her healer as the more she sung the more she seemed to visibly heal. Towards the end of the set she was crowd-surfing with glee as if the first 15 minutes never happened!
The music was a far departure from the carefree pop music of her earlier years. It was lively, bordering on punk in its delivery. I purposely did not listen to her new songs prior to the show so whatever she’d been making in the interim could hit me with full-force and it did. Indeed, when a member of audience politely shouted to hear I’ll Kill Her, Soko rebutted with an affirmative statement about being an artist having moved on from that record as an artist.
The show felt like a rollercoaster with very few breaks. The energy and times was electric and I don’t think I’ve jumped around (sober at least anyway) during a gig that much for a while. Inviting a member of the audience to tell a “bad poem” before singing it’s namesake was a nice touch. Inviting a friend up to lead an alien dance-fest was fun. The introduction of the cello for the final two songs was moving. It was a gig that felt spontaneous and it was all the better for it.
A phrase you often hear is someone wearing their heart of their sleeve. Soko made me realise how redundant the saying is. No one wears their heart on their sleeve as if you can pack it away the next day or mix-and-match it with red shoes and yellow socks. Your heart, your emotions, your frailties are always present – it is just some people are better at hiding them than others. And then there are people like Soko, who display them with pride and challenge you to accept her exactly the way she is… and for that I love her!
Ps. Not so quick post after-all