It's hard to believe that next month will be the one year anniverary of Scottish electronic band CHVRCHES releasing their first LP. At this point, it seems like the trio has been dominating indie and pop airwaves for ages. Every track on The Bones of What You Believe oozes with pristine pop majesty, and it's no surprise that the band has exploded so brightly on the scene. Since then, we've heard the band on every station, covering a number of excellent bands for soundtracks and such, and being remixed by the best. This week, CHVRCHES brought all that same magic that we've come to love from them over the past year to physical incarnation in a back to back two night residence at Seattle's Showbox Sodo. If you couldn't attend, it's pretty easy to imagine the warehouse packed to the brim two nights in a row with screaming fans, copious amounts of dancing, and enough strobing triangles to build a pyramid. CHVRCHES' electronic brilliance hasn't faded one bit since we first heard "Recover" in March of last year, and if tonight's show is any indication, it looks like the group is only getting stronger with time.
Opening the festivities for CHVRCHES' Thursday night show was a set from Seattle DJ Dutty Wilderness. Reed (also of local electronic favorite Beat Connection) spun a diverse and fitting set for this evening's crowd, spanning the dance landscape between pounding house and groove-heavy disco and back again. Todd Terje's excellent "Inspector Norse" found its way in there, among other things. The room was pitch black for the duration of Reed's set, but the tracks piled in one after another, and by the time he waved goodbye, the crowd was primed for CHVRCHES - an excellent impromptu set if there ever was one.
CHVRCHES are one of those bands that just bring out the best in each other. Members Iain Cook and Martin Doherty had known each other for years before working together on CHVRCHES, each members of other Scottish bands leading up to this project. Together with the visceral and unique vocal efforts of Lauren Mayberry, the three are a recipe for success from the get go. But throw in the fact that all three have extensive prior band experience and know how to interact with a crowd, now you have a surefire promise of a good time. And that's exactly what Thursday night was.
Opening with the blistering synth romp of "We Sink", the lights, color, and sound were cranked up to full blast the moment the lights went down. Cook and Doherty both manned dueling synth setups behind flashing lights, while Mayberry took front and center with a floor fan making every second look as epic as possible. For "Lungs", Doherty got the crowd involved dancing and clapping along while Cook whipped out the bass guitar for that face-melting breakdown. For the most part, Mayberry floated around stage dropping one pitch perfect line after another. But for crowd favorites like "Recover" and "The Mother We Share", she got to interact with the crowd a bit and sing along with every member of the audience. The band let all hesitation to the wind for "Tether" late in the set, and we were all reminded how insanely powerful the last two minutes of that track really are, especially when accompanied by blinding light and a couple thousand bodies jumping up and down.
Blasting through the entire LP plus the bonus track "Strong Hand", CHVRCHES threw a Sodo party like old pros Thursday night. As they closed out the evening with "By The Throat", attendees were thinking twice about trying to scrounge up tickets for tomorrow night. After dominating massive festival stages across the globe, it's fun to see them here in a (relatively) smaller venue, and goes to show when the band is done selling out venue after venue on the endless Bones of What You Believe blitzkrieg, there's no question they'll cook up another record that we'll all be jumping to in the dark in another couple years.
Sometimes, you don't know how good you have it in Seattle. Just last month, Sheffield garage rock duo Drenge packed the John Peel stage tent so full at Glastonbury that you'd have to fight your way through about 10,000 bodies to get even a reasonable view of the band. This past Monday, you could ...