Chvrches - The Wiltern - 11/18/13
One wishes there were more strong, quirky, beguiling female front-women on the current musical landscape. To get noticed these days, it seems, the options are strip like Miley or whip up an aggressive dance frenzy like M.I.A. or Lady Gaga.
Lauren Mayberry, the petite crooner who fronts Scottish buzz band Chvrches (pronounced Churches) however, is primed for pop stardom, but she does her own thing. At the group's packed Wiltern show last night, the 25-year-old singer, dressed in black leggings and a loose white blouse, had fans enraptured with her big, ethereal vocals. No come-ons or raging necessary.
Flanked by bandmates Iain Cook and Martin Dohertyon on keyboards, laptop and the occasional guitar, she rocked through the band's sharp and synth-heavy catalog, focusing on tracks off their recently released full-length, The Bones of What You Believe.
They had a youthful zeal and giddy charm on stage, and a strong visual impact through their light design. Their geometric logo danced to the beats and changed colors throughout the set, backlighting the trio and giving them a mysterious quality.
Though their synth-pop rock has an EDM sensibility, Mayberry never actually dances, standing mostly still and swaying with her mic, something she made mention of.
Cook and Doherty are more animated, showing off some seriously nerdy moves that weren't too different from what the crowd was doing. The mostly young, white KCRW types were stomping about all over the place. It was especially cool to see so many college dudes getting down to the band's melodious, downright pretty electro-pop, particularly songs like the enchanting "The Mother We Share," and the hopeful love musing "Recover."
Clearly, Mayberry has her share of crush-struck male fans. Though it was hard to see her face through the stage lighting and smoke machine, she looks like a cross between Rachel Lee Cook and Natalie Portman. The band's appeal goes way beyond a cute singer though, and we wouldn't be surprised to see an older fanbase embrace them as their profile continues to rise.
Many songs feel very '80s-tinged, recalling female-driven synth-heavy acts like Saint Etienne and Ace of Base, and the artier melodies of Cocteau Twins and Bjork. Gracefully meshing retro moods and melodies with a modern electro flair has garnered Chvrches a congregation of devotees, but only time will tell if this young band will be worship-worthy.
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