Location: Snotty Seaside, Stockholm (SE)
By: Dante Joestar
There is little that a band like Isotope Soap can be compared to because there is really nothing quite like it. Take some hypnotic guitar work, play it over squealing and seemingly sporadic sounds from a synth, add rough and throaty punk vocals, then dress the whole thing up in a thrift store suit jacket, and you’ve almost got an idea of the unique and bold show Isotope Soap has in store.
The set begins with the six-piece group descending upon the stage, more often than not still in the middle of changing clothes. The guitarists in front (one of whom observant fans may recognize as accomplished solo artist Henrik Palm) both don plastic masks and nondescript, somewhat ill-fitting, black button-up shirts. The three members in back, two on synth and one on synth bass, each unceremoniously stuff their heads into pantyhose, the lights onstage only serving to further warp their cartoonishly smushed faces. Swedenhammer on vocals appears in a flash of color, bright red sneakers on quick-moving feet, his head hastily painted a shock of white, and an X smeared in blue across his chest, visible under a suit jacket that appears to have been thrown on almost as an afterthought. The whole thing is a bizarre juxtaposition of professionalism and classic horror, like seeing a zombie with a desk job, or an alien totally naked save for a tie around its neck.
The band gives little time to get used to their odd appearance before belting out their crazy loud synthpunk brand. Each member onstage seems to be within their own separate world as they play, bodies twisting and feet shuffling and fingers slamming down on keys or ripping across guitar strings. But the one who truly owns the spotlight is Swedenhammer, his sometimes violent–other times oddly soothing–vocals enhanced by the erratic way he moves. One minute he will be dancing onstage, ass wiggling and toes tapping, and the next he will descend upon the crowd, milling through the audience with microphone in tow, almost begging for someone to go back onstage with him. Several times throughout the set he drops to his knees or even lays on the floor, squirming like a maggot and crawling about aimlessly, sweat and paint mingling on his head and dripping on the floor when it’s not staining his suit. The wild performance ends as suddenly as it starts, the musicians bowing and blowing kisses before quickly and silently evacuating. The viewer is left with a ringing in the ears and a fleck of paint on their shoe as the only proof that this melodic fever dream of a show even happened.
Whether it’s to bask in the organized chaos of their sound, to watch the captivating performance of Swedenhammer on the mic, or to just get a chuckle from watching some guys wearing pantyhose on their heads, Isotope Soap is one band you surely can not miss!