by Zach Brendza
Despite the "you might want to build an ark" type Pittsburgh rain, Scottish synth-pop band Chvrches played Stage AE last night, June 11.
The sold-out show was Chvrches' first in the city, singer Lauren Mayberry told the crowd. Her only memory, be it fictional, was the line "I shoulda dumped you in Pittsburgh!" from the the 1996 film That Thing You Do. It was also there first time playing in an area with a tornado warning, which made Mayberry uneasy, with her knowledge of tornadoes coming from the movie Twister and extreme weather shows.
The band's hour-long set was a crescendo, not in terms of volume but in quality. As it went on, the set got better due to set list structure or possibly response from the crowd, which gave no response to opener The Range's DJ set. Mayberry's vocals, along with the synths, were the stand-out element of Chvrches' set, and the band for that matter. Her voice at times had to battle the booming bass and other instruments, but when she did break through that wall of sound, it was brilliant.
The Glasgow trio performed indoors, thankfully. If the show had been outdoors, the band would have had guaranteed technical difficulties. The band's live show not only relies on power for instrumentation (synth, samplers, guitar, bass, etc.), but also in their stage setup, with light fixtures in the stage backdrop, on Iain Cook and Martin Doherty's synth stands and smaller lights behind the band.
Visual elements were half the appeal of the band's set, with light fixtures changing from blue to green to other colors, pulsating with the music and creating a stage presence for the band, who were mostly static except for an instrument change or Doherty's dance moves when he was lead vocals on a few songs.
1. We Sink
5. Night Sky
6. Strong Hand
10. Under the Tide
11. The Mother We Share
12. You Caught the Light
13. By the Throat