Chvrches at House of Blues, 11/24/13
Chvrches are a group that play with your expectations. It starts with the name; the moment you the swapped "v" instead of a "u" you assume they'll either be a Norwegian death-metal band or a witch-house DJ. Then you press the play button and you're confronted with a very catchy synth-pop band.
You listen to their debut album, The Bones of What You Believe, and you expect the band to be kind of dour, given that there isn't much in the way of positivity on the record. Then you go and see them live and discover that they're very funny, charming people.
You go to a concert to experience the catharsis that comes from live music, and you get that, but not in the way you would from a typical live show.
Whether this is purposeful or accidental is hard to say, but it certainly makes Chvrches one of the most interesting up and coming acts around today.
Lauren Mayberry is a singer, and although she does the bulk of the lead singing and crowd interaction, it seems weird to give her the title of front woman. She's not a domineering presence, stalking across the stage commanding attention; she's an equal third of the group, and what she may lack in stage presence she more than makes up for by delivering note-for-note recreations of her vocals from the album. She's the rock that makes centers the entire ship and makes everything else onstage possible.
Synth/sample-player Martin Doherty is the heart of the group. His vocals are not note for note, but every time he opens his mouth it's easy to believe that he means everything he sings. The emotional highpoint, vocally at least, was when he got his turn to take lead vocals on "Under the Tide" and managed to move across the stage more in one song than Mayberry did the rest of the show. It's the kind of pure display of emotion that you can't help but smile at, proof that just because you're not hitting the right notes doesn't mean you're hitting the wrong ones.
Most of the emotion of the night was pulled from the music side of things: the synths going nuts at the end of "Tether," the chopped vocal samples of "The Mother We Share", and the moment that the show-closing "By the Throat" explodes back to full force. They're a young band with a small catalog, but they do a good job of building the set to save their strongest, most dynamic material for the end of the show.
Review continues on the next page.