Auxiliary Magazine’s Beauty Editor Elizabeth Rhodes and Los Angeles-based photographer Saryn Christina caught The Soft Moon with Boy Harsher Tour at their Los Angeles stop. It was a homecoming show for The Soft Moon frontman Luis Vasquez who is touring to support his fourth full-length album Criminal which was released on February 2nd.
LIEBESTOD opened the show and was followed by Boy Harsher, a band quickly gaining popularity in the postpunk and dark electronic music scene for their blend of a haunting feminine voice atop searing industrial beats. With decidedly danceable melodies and a pop sensibility to their songwriting, they have a lot of appeal. The duo were lit with stark red and blue lighting throughout much of their set which intensified the already Spartan stage set up: no visuals or flash to distract viewers. Watching vocalist Jae Matthews interact with the various musical gadgets at the helm of Augustus “Gus” Muller’s impressively spare live rig in between both parties dancing along to their songs was the visual focal point of this set.
For fans that have seen The Soft Moon perform previously they know about the trashcan Vasquez beats the tar out of during live performances. When The Soft Moon arrived on stage and started their set with “Deeper” (from the 2015 full-length of the same name) the trashcan was front and center. The power of The Soft Moon’s performance is in seeing, hearing, and feeling the music in an even darker and more complex tapestry of sounds than is available on any recorded material. The heaviness of the percussion in many of The Soft Moon’s tracks, especially with the latest album, gave ample opportunities for all three live members of the band to explore those sounds through multiple percussion instruments (trashcan included).
Another point of difference from the studio recordings to the live performance is truly witnessing the catharsis of Vasquez himself through his music. Any song with vocals typically features repeated lines for the chorus and this becomes a ritualized release for Vasquez, visible in the energy output he gives on stage and the palpable emotion in his delivery of vocals. Paradoxically, he is also a lighthearted entertainer making pronouncements in between songs and near-dancing with his guitar when able to step away from his microphone and keys. There’s no mystery of why The Soft Moon persists as a top name in the current postpunk scene given the power of their live shows and the intensity of the music, itself an exercise in personal catharsis and connection to the listener.
Next up The Soft Moon embark on an European tour starting May 18th and hit many festivals along the way. Check out the dates on their website to see if you can catch a show.