Northside 2014: CHVRCHES
CHVRCHES at Northside 2014; All photos by Laura Baker-Finch
Brooklyn, New York -- McCarren Park was packed on Sunday when the Scots of CHVRCHES took the stage for their set at Northside Festival. Lines extended around the city block and reports were spread of RSVPers not gaining entry due to the venue's capacity limits. Such can be expected when a band as buzzy as this one plays a free show in Brooklyn.
It felt like Chvrches were there to play the hits, as they managed to fit eleven of the twelve songs on 2013's critical success The Bones of What You Believe into their set as well as the bonus track "Strong Hand." "We Sink," the most recent of five singles from the band's debut, served as the set's opener before they moved through radio hits like "Lies," "Recover," and "Gun." One particular highlight came during "Under the Tide" as synth keyboardist/general button pusher Martin Doherty left his station to sing lead vocals and actually pumped the crowd up to a level not yet reached at any other point in the set.
Here are a couple things I didn't previously know about lead-singer Lauren Mayberry: firstly, she apparently has never seen or heard of a frisbee before. When one glided on stage, she picked it up and asked, "What's this for? You're supposed to throw it?" Secondly, she's the only person who could make wearing a mask of his/her own face endearing. "My friend made these creepy things, so I thought I'd try one on."
There's something almost naive or childish about the way Mayberry conducts herself that's seemingly reflective of the music. She swings her microphone cable like a jumprope as the speakers blast lively electro-pop and sings in a high-pitched tone you would expect to find in a children's choir. This aesthetic coupled with the adult lyrical content makes for an almost playfully ironic juxtaposition. The group spoon-feeds its audience very real drama, but with a sugar-coating for an enhanced accessibility. The sun was setting just as they closed with "The Mother We Share," a song that encapsulates a lot of my feelings on Chvrches' music: at times super cryptic but catchy as hell.
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