SOHN; Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London, 12/9/14

SOHN; Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London, 12/9/14

Kicking off a three-month-long world tour, SOHN brought an enigmatic, and at points, intense stage show to London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire; displaying a proud and engaging aptitude to live performance, immersive light show, and most importantly, a setlist that demonstrated a vast range of electronic and live sounds carefully balanced with vocals that were at times, powerfully overwhelming.

Having emerged with two tracks in 2012, and with his debut album Tremors released in April 2014, Christopher Taylor, (aka SOHN), is on the prowl to push the boundaries of his experimental sound as far as possible. By combining resampled vocals with a mixture of live and synthesised instrumentation, SOHN explores an extremely dynamic range of sounds, but it is the culmination of all of these elements revolving around a live vocal track which forces the whole performance forward. The progressive nature of his sound sees SOHN build and sustain immense tension that he finally breaks with huge multi-instrumental sequences, that when performed live, united with strobe lighting, prove euphoric and overwhelming.

Though seemingly skipping out years of touring on the small-venue circuit (that most up-coming artists struggle through, and prove themselves in doing so), SOHN demonstrated that he is no less able. What he may lack in experience, he makes up for with showmanship and a positive attitude that leaves you with a smile on your face, if just for his ability to make the entire performance seem so casual and enjoyable for himself. If performing a new show in front of 2000 fans wasn’t already challenging enough, SOHN noted that the hardest judges to please that evening were his parents, who were sat in the balcony of the venue. But it was no problem for him. His talent more than exceeded the expectation of the crowd and he thoroughly impressed all.

Though starting off with a slow and slightly distant stage presence; perhaps intimidated by the crowd, he soon embraced the atmosphere with a rendition of his first single ‘Oscillate’ – a dynamic track that demonstrates his experimental vocal style, building progressively and then breaking down again, its addictiveness leaving you seeking more. Beginning with some of his more minimalist songs, the show lacked initial pace, but SOHN’s careful structure of the set-list built upwards to the more progressive and heavy tracks: he warmed up more and more as the evening progressed.

After stunning the crowd and obliterating the venue with a barrage of light and sound during ‘Bloodflows’, bringing the audience to a high, SOHN plummeted the venue into silence, before bringing on two special guests, Laura Doggett and the incredibly talented Kwabs. The trio performed one piece together, each complementing each other to produce fantastic harmonies; in some respect Kwabs poached five minutes of glory with his impressive baritone voice, leaving the crowd ecstatic and wild.

SOHN finished the night with a humble thank you to the audience, and left with an almighty performance of ‘The Wheel’, an intense and rewarding song for the hardcore fans and new audience members alike. With his meticulous detail in songwriting and his powerful voice, along with his simple and mysterious visual style, SOHN showed that he’s got what it takes to conquer: exploring new aural territories, breaking genre boundaries, and breathing life into a venue. The world is seemingly at his feet.

Thomas Rosser