The Bomb Factory, Dallas
Thursday, November 5, 2015
Not all synthetic pop music is on point, but in 2013 when Chvrches (pronounced churches) released their EP The Mother We Share into the world, they immediately became Euro synth-pop darlings, booking major music festivals and venues ever since. On Thursday night at The Bomb Factory in Dallas, they put on a show that mirrored their first album identically, with a few sparse, never-before-released songs sprinkled in between.
The three-piece Scottish band have enjoyed global name recognition and continue to release new EPs that are lyrically interesting and musically dynamic. Lead vocalist Lauren Mayberry’s angelic, child-like tone is beautifully juxtaposed with their often dark, relationship-heavy lyrics. She is a genius concoction. The group that once had no money and played small, dingy clubs in Europe have made their way to prominence without losing their creative style.
Mayberry started the show with high energy, flailing her porcelain body around stage like a gothic doll. Her persona plays on the convergence of strength and softness. She maintained a certain coherence in her voice throughout the entire set, with no cracks or pauses on high notes. Yet as the show progressed there was something less enchanting about the physical presence of the group, and something more noteworthy about the atmosphere they created. It was far more interesting to watch the closed-eyed crowd swaying in unison, as though they had been in that very moment before. Pockets of young girls danced with each other in the corners of the dark room, while older men sipped their Shiner beers wondering what they had gotten themselves into. There were no wild, screaming teens at this show (maybe because they had homework due the next day), but they're not the sort you’ll find at a Chvrches show anyway. It’s no secret that Chvrches cater to a pretty specific crowd — say 20-something dudes with man buns and ladies with wing-tipped eyeliner — which made The Bomb Factory feel like walking into an indoor Coachella. Only the fringe vests and porta potties were missing.
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And that’s fine because those who absorb the band become engrossed in their own world. Fans get lost in the beat and hang on the heartache in lyrics like, “I’m feeling capable of saying it’s over ... seeing the end.” Watching Chvrches perform live only reinforced that the trio is talented and steady; they’ve got a knack for weaving lyrics and perfectly timed beats into something fresh and unexpected.
About halfway through the show, Mayberry took a water break to banter with the audience, showing off her quirky wit and sharp humor. She gabbed mostly about mundane events from the day, but what probably mattered to most was getting to hear their adorable Glasgow accents. Mayberry shared her very real fear of Texas tornadoes and their panic with the storm that battered DFW right before their performance. “We don’t have that crap in Scotland," she said. "It’s like straight out of the movie Twister.” Hopefully the November tornado fail made the last pit stop on their U.S. tour the most memorable for them. While Chvrches certainly did not disappoint, they weren’t affecting either. The most impressive part of their show may have been the lights. (Dazzling light shows are almost routine now at The Bomb Factory.) Bright purple dance-club strobes during their upbeat song “We Sink” kept the energy high, while soft green and blue pastels during the more intimate moments of “Tether” brought us back down. The show lacked pizazz that Chvrches may or may not be capable of.
We know Chvrches make good music, a fact reinforced by how rapidly their songs have caught on globally. What's less clear is if Chvrches will develop into a truly engaging live band. Maybe their music is better experienced exclusively through a good pair of headphones, and we’re all better off listening to their digital-heavy delights from the comfort of our own homes. On the bright side, we wouldn't have to brave the Texas weather that way.