Falls Festival’s sideshow week is truly one of very mixed feelings. It’s exciting an energising, which is lucky because it’s also completely exhausting. It’s certainly worth it, however, when you get to catch Ireland’s SOAK. with band in tow.
SOAK. is Bridie Monds-Watson, who we’ve been following closely for the better part of 2015, and it was a treat to not only see her grace the Falls Festival lineup, but also announce sideshows while out here. This is unsurprising, however, as Monds-Watson has repeatedly expressed her love for Australia (even going so far as to get a ‘goon’ tattoo back in April), and claiming her day in Melbourne was “pretty much the best day of [her] life” (but any day that starts with a brownie has got to be pretty good…)
The revamped Northcote Social Club was suitably buzzing in anticipation for the headliner’s set, and Monds-Watson took it in her stride, opening the set with two tracks solo. Captivating with just a guitar to hide behind, the room zoned in on the musician, ready for when her two band members joined her on stage. Immediately the crowd was struck by the band’s ability to create beautiful soundscapes in the live setting. The waves of sound filling out tracks from SOAK’s debut LP Before We Forgot How To Dream genuinely encapsulated the progress made since last visiting Australia back in April, and developing this fuller live show at festivals across the world. ‘Blud’ and ‘B A Nobody’ were highlights, and the huge sound of ‘Hailstones Don’t Hurt’ didn’t go unnoticed, but the true apex of the evening was Monds-Watson’s banter. Somewhat timid and endearing, we were told of the band’s experience on the Falls Festival tour, and their raging New Years Eve (“we fell asleep. We slept in the new year”- and in Tasmania no less). We were also treated to Bridie’s Australian accent (“there’s a shark in the water!”) and hre sharing goon with the crowd (even pouring it for thirsty punters). Current single ‘Reckless Behaviour’ went down a treat, as did Bridie’s solo encore- a cover of Bonnie Raitt’s ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’.
SOAK’s love affair with Australia (and specifically Melbourne) doesn’t look like it’s ending any time soon, and I don’t think anyone is too mad about that.