Soft Kill revives your inner 'sad boy' at 51 West

We all are bleeding on the inside. But it's okay, because we're all bleeding together. So why not dance to the tunes that make us feel emotional instead of wallowing in darkness like we usually do? 

Soft Kill is a goth pop band from Portland, Oregon that is part of The Cure-influenced movement known as Emo Revival. Their music is mix of shoe gaze guitar riffs, muffled lyrics and swaying rhythms. 

The band is the brainchild of musician Tobias Francis who spoke about the beginnings of Soft Kill at the show.

"We lived in a warehouse in L.A. and just jammed every day," he said.  

Francis said The Cure has meant a lot to the band and that they are often compared to them.  

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By Jacob Stanek | The State Press

Soft Kill performs new material on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015 at Fifty One West in Tempe.

"The Cure is my favorite band of all time," he said. "We're all pretty miserable people and we just channel that stuff."

The band's 2011 album "An Open Door" is hailed as a classic of the genre and stands up to multiple listens, preferably on a rainy day. 

"(The album) was written during a honeymoon period with somebody," Francis said. "And I was teaching myself to play guitar in a different way than I did before."

"Heresy" is the group's 2015 release that stays true to the band's form. In a more evolved state, the band crafts their songs to be darker and catchier with more of a pop influence, especially "Selfish Love," a track ripe for being played in a smoke-filled club. 

Francis also opened up about his addiction to drugs that he battled with before "Heresy" was released. 

"After we did that album, I had a ten year battle with meth and heroin and ended up going to prison and down into the deepest darkest hole," he said. "Before 'Heresy' I lost three of my closest friends. It was impossible not to let that completely take over me."

Although the basis for much of his art is depressing stuff, through his music he finds an avenue to seek optimism.

Through all the audio haze and constricting darkness of the ambiance the melodies seem to always be leading forward into a far off heaven of light. This combination between despair and optimism is what attracted me most to music like Soft Kill. 

Soft Kill was joined by local acts Draa, Sleep Money and Body of Light on Wednesday at coffee shop, vegan restaurant and music venue 51 West in Tempe.

Chase Mason, who booked the show, said he was a long-time fan of Soft Kill.

"It's really sad but catchy at the same time," he said. "Every song is incredible."

The show itself was flooring. Local opener Draa, although having to play first, delivered a solid set. Sleep Money channeled Joy Division and played with the lights out. Body of Light blew up with a high energy performance which was incredibly impressive for a two-piece that uses their own self-sufficient PA system and performs with only a DJ and a singer.

As for Soft Kill, I was somewhat underwhelmed by their set. They performed as a five-piece band and I felt like the bass was too loud and the guitar and vocals too low. I was disappointed as their recordings are amazing and feel that with some tweaking the live performance could have been much better.

But at the end of the day I was satisfied, recalling why I came to the show in the first place; to seek redemption through the path of sorrow.

Or as Francis puts it: "For me the light at the end of the tunnel is being able to cope with being alive in general."

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Reach the reporter at lsaether@asu.edu or follow him on twitter at @looooogaaan.

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