The massive Joy Division fan that I am, I often wonder what kind of magnificence Ian Curtis might have delivered had he stayed with us longer. Anything dark and moody gets me going, which is why The Soft Moon peaked my interest. Gothic post-punk with heavy synth and moody bass? You had me at hello.
The singer, instrumentalist, producer and founder of The Soft Moon, Luis Vasquez, has garnered a cult following for his particular brand of melancholic grunge. It was clear from the fast-filling room that Perth fans had been eagerly awaiting his first ever visit to Australia.
The Soft Moon attracted a Mojo’s crowd that could just as easily have been a meeting of the black band t-shirt appreciation society. It’s the kind of gig you’d expect to see someone rockin’ multiple facial piercings, dangerously skinny black jeans and a joy division ‘unknown pleasures’ t-shirt in Arabic, and then you do..
The evening’s proceedings began with a set from gloomy drone-pop duo, The Erasers. The Perth locals offered up a set of deep female vocals echoing over percussive atmospherics. The style of rhythmic repetition that The Erasers favour is almost hypnotic and the low drawl of the lead singer, reverent. While their particular style of gloom-pop doesn’t tend to illicit enthusiastic cheers and yells, it was obvious that their offerings kept the Fremantle crowd engaged and were much appreciated.
Excitement and intrigue was evident in the crowd as they warmly welcomed Vasquez and band on stage. Mojo’s was buzzing with a small gathering of passionate followers eager to see how The Soft Moon‘s industrial sound would translate to a live performance. Opening with ‘Black’, one of his more renowned tracks from his most recent album offering Deeper, Vasquez screams “I. Don’t. Care. What. You. Say.” over dark and abrasive synth sounds.
With his angsty sound, gloomy lyrics, and punk aesthetic (I’m talking ripped jeans, doc martens and ‘disheveled hair don’t care’ look), you’d be forgiven for fearing the night would be a parade of clichés. However, The Soft Moon makes the performance their own. They brave depressive themes with a unique alternation between intense wails and synth screams with quiet brooding whispers and assertive bass.
Adding a bit of industrial flair, Vasquez pounded out drumbeats on an old school garbage can with some serious vigor to recreate the intense percussion from his track ‘Wrong’. Vasquez’s high-energy stage presence is palpable and it is obvious he puts all of himself into his performances. Personally I believe it to be one of the most involved physical performances I’ve seen from an act in this particular genre. Sadly while his touring band looked the part, they lacked the same visceral energy that Vasquez packs in his show.
Regardless, the entire performance was a stellar piece of moody magnificence. The Soft Moon offers a dip in to the ether, letting you float around in the dark atmospheric soundscapes and then bringing you back to earth with his assertive thuds of drum and bass. The result, a profound sonic experience I believe Ian Curtis would have very much appreciated.