Soda Blonde at The Grand Social on June 8th 2019

The face of Faye O’Rourke is plastered on the walls of The Grand Social. The poster for tonight is a departure from the homespun imagery of Little Green Cars – the acclaimed, recently disbanded folk act from which Soda Blonde’s four members are culled. There are no plaid shirts or acoustic guitars. There is only O’Rourke, black lipstick and broken glass.

Tonight is their first headline show. There is only one single available online, released only a day or two in advance of the gig. The track – Swimming Through the Night – is not a far cry from Little Green Cars. The tune is propelled by O’Rourke’s trademark belt, though every member contributes backing vocals.

Swimming Though the Night is not a folk tune, however. There are no guitars on the track, electric or otherwise. The production is very pop – the track is driven by an electronic drum loop. Should the Little Green Cars fans in attendance prepare for their very own “Dylan goes electric” moment?

Soda Blonde emerge from the crowd and take the stage. The first two tracks are keyboard driven, with Adam O’Regan not so much as touching a guitar. It’s hard not to dance, particularly when O’Regan drops down to the chunky low keys on the second cut. The sound is big – it’s easy to imagine it translating to a larger stage.

No one is more invested in the performance than Faye O’Rourke herself – her passion is contagious. She dances, takes a gulp from an audience member’s pint and launches into the crowd, still dancing. When the set slows down in the middle, her vocal prowess completely sells the slower songs.

Bassist Donagh Seaver O’Leary shines on The Heat of the Night, serving up a slinky picked line over the chorus. The set really picks up momentum from here, with O’Regan venturing out from behind the keys to riff on the guitar.

Near the end of the set Soda Blonde finally break out the acoustic ballad. Seaver O’Leary and drummer Dylan Lynch stand-by as O’Rourke and O’Regan perform a track that would not be amiss on either Little Green Cars record. Clearly, Soda Blonde is not another “Dylan goes electric” moment. They have instead walked the tightrope – they have carved a distinct identity for themselves without alienating fans of their previous project. Bigger stages await.