This Soft Moon article was written by Matty Ayre, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Zoe Anderson. Footer photo by Natascia Mariano
Despite the fact that The Soft Moon have been on tour across Europe since early September, and have played gigs on near enough consecutive nights, they showed no signs of tiredness as they treated the small but dedicated audience to a thrilling set at The Night and Day Cafe in Manchester. Luis Vasquez, frontman and architect of the bands gloomy industrial sound, played the show with the intensity of a man who clearly attaches deep personal emotions to the songs. Vasquez was full of energy throughout the bands hour long set, asserting himself as a lively stage presence, right from the opening number.
The Soft Moon’s set up revolved around percussion and this added a powerful new dimension to the band’s post-punk sound. Vasquez, was flanked by drummer, Matteo Vallicelli and bassist Luigi Pianezzola, with all of the trio dressed in black. Vallicelli was a dominating presence behind the sticks, with his modified drum kit also incorporating electronic elements, to help fuse together the bands varied 80’s influences. Both Vasquez and Pianezzola shared percussive duties with the singer, frequently utilising a huge metal drum and bongo set, and the bass player able to add sharp, icy snare hits through his drum sampler. Ultimately, this thoughtful dedication to the rhythm section helped take The Soft Moon’s climatic live sound to new heights, as multiple songs featured powerful percussive breakdowns.
Musically, the band also managed to impress, performing a set spanning songs from all three of their records. The Soft Moon explore sombre post-punk influences and expand on these sounds, by adding intricate electronic effects to create a more robotic, industrial feel. Dark pounding basslines drive the songs forward, whilst Vasquez alternates between adding textured guitar parts, sparse vocalised echoes and mechanical synth squeals. Opening track ‘Black’, instantly enthralled the crowd – with its atmospheric, foreboding electronic sounds, and this would set the tone for the rest of the evening. Considering the intensity at which the band performed every song, they were alarmingly tight and their brooding sound translated brilliantly to the narrow confines of the Night and Day’s intimate stage.
“We should do some Whiskey shots,” Vasquez laughed, as the band adjusted their equipment in the middle of the set. This was one of the few times that the singer had broken the intensity of the show, to interact with the crowd and this was greeted with loud cheers and a subsequent fulfilling of the order. The band happily downed their drinks before launching back into the murky music in which they were captivating their audience with.
One criticism that has been levelled towards the band’s sound over the years, is that their vocals remain distant and too heavily reverbed. ‘Deeper’, the bands new record, has thoroughly helped to refute this critique, with songs from this album sounding particularly penetrating when performed. ‘Far’, was an obvious highlight, with Vasquez spitting out angst-ridden lyrics in its rare conventional chorus. ‘Being’ also sounded thrillingly sinister, with its climatic bass and guitar lines sounding as desperate and dark as anything on an early Cure record.
‘Die Life’ and ‘Machines’, from the band’s second record were also highlights, with synths pulsating menacingly, and Pianezzola launching into throbbing basslines, the band sound at their best when they take clear post-punk influences and blend them with industrial robotic elements. The Soft Moon’s shadowy sound is built upon an abject darkness, with Vasquez displaying his personal demons for all to see, with powerful performances throughout every song. This blackened formula never sounds contrived or over-stylized, and although Vasquez is quite obviously influenced by the gloomy frontmen of the 1980’s, he has still created a unique persona for himself and his band.
Overall, The Soft Moon have finally arrived at the perfect blend of gothic new-wave, industrial synth-noise and relentless post-punk to ensure that their live performances sound varied yet still utterly mesmerising and powerful.