Soft Kill and Choir Boy with Sun Spot – The Exchange, Bristol – 27 June 2022

Sun Spot are a local outfit, purveyors of generic indie rock. Nothing to write home about (yet) but they have entertaining between-song banter you don’t often find in the first support band.

I only got round to properly listening to Choir Boy the day of the gig (I missed them when they came through town last month). Their sound is not really my jam, but I was willing to be convinced.

They are better live than on the album, but I still don’t get it – something is missing for me. The fans love them though, and the singer puts heart and soul into the performance. The album material strikes me as Soft Kill light but live it was more of a new wave torch songs experience, reminiscent of The Pet Shop Boys (not a bad thing). (I’ve since been informed it’s a very Italo-influenced style, which is not really my thing, which in turn explains why I don’t love them). For me the highlight was Tobias from Soft Kill’s guest spot on guitar.

Choir Boy performing Shatter at The Exchange

It’s no secret that I’m a massive fan of Soft Kill. For those not familiar with their material, Soft Kill dish up gorgeous, melodic pop-infused postpunk tunes that kick you right in the feels. I caught most of their set recently at Wave Gotic Treffen but it was crowded and hot and I had a ticket to see them here in a much smaller venue, so I stayed at the back of the hall for that.

It was so much better seeing them in a venue that’s not much bigger than my front room! Tobias has an endless supply of nervous energy. He is a tightly coiled spring with the energy of a trapped animal at times. For a big man he bounces around very lightly and is in constant motion. For the most part, the set was lovely renditions of lovely songs.

Soft Kill peerforming Swept Away at The Exchange

Then Tobias told the back story of the Dead Kids RIP album – his abusive upbringing, decades-long heroidn addiction, prison, and losing many friends to the fentanyl crisis. This culminated in an impassioned plea that we all will need to look out for each other, because when (not if) fentanyl makes its way over here, no one in authority is going to help. The solutions will be in mutual aid and non-profit organisations. That utterly destroyed me – I hadn’t been prepared to cry. Even if I’d filmed it there is no way I would share it anywhere. It was too raw and personal.

And then I bounced around some more because the tunes are just so damn catchy. They closed on Whirl, which is my favourite, so all in all it was a gleeful experience with a serious message at its core.

Where the singer from Choir Boy puts heart and soul into his performance, it is still a performance – in Tobias’ case, it is obvious that he has lived every moment of these songs and has put his entire being into theri creation and performance.

In short, check out the Bandcamp link above as soon as you can, and if you ever get a chance to see them, DO IT!