Chvrches Lights Up Asheville
The Thomas Wolfe Auditorium in Asheville, NC slowly filled with the short set of LA based Lo Moon, opener for Scottish synth-pop trio Chvrches, on October 9th, 2018. The stage, set with moody fill lighting and a darkening fog rising behind the band, was perfectly matched with the melancholic sounds from the four members. Reminiscent of mid-90’s heartbreak grunge meeting recent sounds with a likeness to Kings of Leon, the group proved captivating. The drummer, no doubt the heartbeat and backbone of the band, carried the set with an extraordinarily crisp percussion, as the singer tugged at emotions with tenor sounds of heartache. Their debut album, released this past February, is definitely worth a listen if you enjoy the rollercoaster of rock and ethereal sorrow.
Next up, Chvrches. A heavy bass line vibrated through the auditorium. The crowd was instantly on their feet as the backdrop composed of a grid of lights began flashing, upstage two leaning crosses lit up with stripes and static, followed by haunting electric beats and voices. After a minute or so, Johnny Scott (drums), Martin Doherty, and Iain Cook took their respective platforms. Last, Lauren Mayberry, front man and lead singer stopped front and center, lifting her arms to shoulder height pausing as the audience cheered on in anticipation, before the band leaned strongly into opening hit single, “Get Out”.
Mayberry’s youthful energy and fashion (sequined shorts, a midriff exposing tank, her “Love is Dead” necklace and dramatic pink eye makeup) supported her unique soprano voice and characteristic spinning and pacing to lure the auditorium in while contrasting lyrics and flashing colored lights rode atop steady volumes of synth delivering heartfelt messages often speaking to current politics. Mayberry lead the group through 5 more songs including “Bury It” from Every Open Eye, and more from 2017 Love is Dead, “Graffiti” and “Graves” before handing center stage to Doherty.
Transitioning from an almost distracted Mayberry, losing her place mid song, telling stories of ripped trousers and sharing her mother’s wisdom, “Everybody sh!+s”, Doherty stole the show with “God’s Plan” and “Under the Tide”. With an oversized long sleeved black t-shirt and a vocal authenticity making its way through piercing synth and blinding white and blue lights he brought life to the songs and the audience.
The second half while starting with more energy, offered more flashing colored lights, shrill electric beats and heavy bass vibrations, until Mayberry’s pacing stopped and the lights dimmed. Sitting on a low stool for “Really Gone”, her voice showed range and she seemed more natural, more present in a moment of calm. The set finished with “Leave a Trace” and “Clearly Blue” and the audience was left wanting.
The encore brought no surprise, but a welcomed treat with a stunning performance of “The Mother We Share”, a hit from The Bones of What You Believe, Chvrches first album. Finally, “Never Say Die”, brought the audience in and seemed to hold them there even while Mayberry walked off stage. The audience was left to finish the last repeats of “Never Say Die” and Scott, Doherty and Cook shared a moment in the spotlight before the stage darkened and the house lights came up.
Written by Cara McKinney
Photos by Nathan Lopez