A crowd slowly built in Club Dada on Tuesday night, receding from the muggy outdoors weather of central Dallas. Though few were there for the opening of the doors, the venue gradually filled out by the time the night’s first act mounted the stage. It was a conversational crowd, with audience members both familiar and unfamiliar with one another choosing to engage in easygoing chatter. It was a good sign of their readiness to embrace one another in the human experiences to follow, a fact that Soft Blue Shimmer and Softcult heartily assisted in cultivating.
As Soft Blue Shimmer tuned their instruments, looking out to the crowd in eager anticipation of their set, it was clear that they were not ones to take their situation for granted. Their set began with a couple of agreeable shoegaze tracks, both of them relaxed in approach, but then moved on to more vigorous cuts that quickly energized the crowd. Their warm-ups were stitched together by appreciative remarks from bassist and lead vocalist Meredith Raymond, who gladly stated how fortunate the band was for being able to perform that night and for being asked to tour with Softcult. The audience returned the love, applauding Soft Blue Shimmer enthusiastically for their musical expertise, but just as well for their humanity. The band’s drummer, Kenzo Cardenas, had perhaps the most animated relationship with his respective instrument compared to anyone in the whole event, with some tracks eliciting extremely fierce pounding upon his skins. Shoutout Kenzo.
Ten or so songs very quickly came and went for the band, flying time by for an effective preliminary to the main act. Softcult, a duo of the sisters Mercedes (guitar, vocals) and Phoenix Arn-Horn (drums, backup vocals), took to the stage next, accompanied by two touring band members. They took their time with the initial sound check, carefully ensuring that the crowd would get the best possible auditory experience for their money. The wait would be well worth it.
Ambience can be a key component to live performances, depending on the genre of music being played. With Softcult’s colorful blender of shoegaze, grunge, indie, and alternative rock music, an auditory gradient appeared to be the perfect choice for preludes to their songs. Opening with amorphous waves that eventually introduced “Spit It Out,” the band appeared entirely comfortable with themselves and with the audience. This was something that would become further evident as the night progressed, as their immeasurable stage presence was unprecedented for a relatively newer artist of their size. Their appreciation of the moment even rivaled that of Soft Blue Shimmer, making it clear that they were glad that we all cared enough to show up. It was welcomed wholeheartedly by the crowd, who were thoroughly captivated by the artists from the moment they began to play.
Not one to relegate the night to a mere distribution of sound, Mercedes occasionally took the time to explain the inception of a few of the band’s tracks. The singer takes inspiration from the sorrowful story of Sarah Everard, a UK woman who was sexually assaulted and then murdered by a policeman. Despite the devastation of the story, Mercedes begs for Sarah and her story to live on, using it as a lesson: We must change the fact that those in power traditionally tend to abuse their positions, and change the likewise traditional habit of victim blaming women in such cases. Through background such as this on the band’s music, the audience can derive something outside of the norm or the bare minimum for a concert; the voices of people such as Softcult’s, those that are listened to on a larger scale than ordinary people, can use their voices to educate.
Though there are surely many words that could summarize those moments within Dada on March 21st, only a few that come to mind could do it with the utmost accuracy:
Appreciation. Encouragement. Enlightenment. Aware. Embrace. Belong. Human.