SOHN @ Sheperd’s Bush Empire

by Sigrid Huber


Vienna’s adopted SOHN continues to make waves across Europe 

Living in London exile as an Austrian can be tough. Especially when it feels like you have to defend your country against the British, at times justified, arrogance when it comes to music. Particularly within the “band of the hour” category.

I was asked not too long ago “if we (Austrians) do actually have any decent musicians that have made it internationally”  –  we (Austrians) know what hidden musical power we are but most people in the UK and perhaps around the rest of Europe have probably never heard of great musicians like Soap & Skin (to be found in every record shop in London – including HMV). That one was easy to answer.

Open minded as we are as a nation we welcome everyone into our little country. If you are a talented artist probably even more. So when Christopher Taylor steadily grew from Trouble over Tokyo into SOHN he also put us in the spotlight of international attention, as his base Vienna is a hub for talent.

And lets be honest,  he might be English but we consinder him “one of our own” and we say his name with a glint of national pride in our eye. Especially with a fully Austrian crew supporting him.

So when SOHN started his current European tour (unofficially last Tuesday at the ITunes Festival, officially though three days later) at the sold out Sheperd’s Bush Empire, Mr. Taylor brought an impressive entourage.

With Laura Doggett, he introduced his audience to an incredible singer (who he has produced) from whom we will be definitely hearing a lot more of in the next couple of months. You don’t really know what to expect when Laura takes to the stage, but as soon as she starts singing then you know that this is something very special. She has one of those unique, crisp and strong voices (think Florence Welsh with a twist or Banks after a few packs of cigarettes) and even though she seemed a bit lost on this big stage at first, her slow movement while singing and her whole charisma was radiant yet dark.


After this slighty mournful start, someone obviously thought it was time to give the audience a little something more joyful with an electro pop flavour. Years & Years are signed to highly praised Kitsune and fronted by multi-talent Olly Alexander. Born in 1990, he is also an actor (he can be seen in the upcoming film “God Help the Girl” from Belle & Sebastians’ Stuart Murdoch) and writer. This range of occupations has earned him a lot of adoring and rather high-pitched fans as could be heard when curly-haired babyface Alexander donned the stage. The sound of this London three piece is very catchy and danceable. It seemed like those who came to see SOHN went for a quick drink at the bar though for this one, but Years & Years definitely brought their own fan club along.

The fog was rising through the throngs of the Sheperd’s Bush Empire by the time the Vienna-based producer finally stepped out from the dark to ascend his little throne. The atmosphere was set to create a captivating atmosphere which the audience lapped up in abundance. The set, the lighting, the music itself with the thoughtful lyrics embedded in addictive sounds – everything was thought-through perfection.


Probably THE highlight of the night was the surprise collaboration between Laura Doggett and Kwabs (he produced for both of them) performing “Last Stand” – the interaction between them was outstanding and an ode to his production skills.

Beside a whole bunch of proud Austrians in the audience, father & mother SOHN were in the audience as well, and received their own round of applause when they revealed their identity from the balcony.  Sheperd’s Bush Empire has a capacity of 2000 people but every single band, every collaboration and the interaction between the people in the audience and the people on stage built a real unique intimacy throughout the whole night.


And this is where SOHN’s biggest strength lies. His music is not pushy, it is the opposite – its captivating and enthralling from the inside-out. A talent he seems to be passing along to his colleagues in arms: Banks, Laura Doggett or Rhye – all of them play with a certain melancholy and the subtle charm of an introvert.

So yes. For whatever selfish reason it may be – this “Vienna based” thing makes me proud, every single time.