Before March this year CHVRCHES had nothing more to their name than a couple of tracks that caused a quick succession of rumblings throughout the blogosphere in 2012.
Barely a year later and the Scottish electro-pop three piece have released their Recover EP and sold out three Australian dates all before their debut album, The Bones Of What You Believe, has even landed.
By comparison their support band, Melbourne’s City Calm Down, were founded in 2008 and released their debut self-titled EP back in 2010. While almost as reliant on synths as their headliners the four piece ooze a far greater sentiment for the 80s and Bourke’s unmistakable Morrissey-esque vocals place them in their own unique corner of Australian music. They performed a well-rounded set with the focus squarely aimed at their tracks.
Which is exactly what you expect from an up and coming band. CHVRCHES are just that. Except for one very big difference. The three piece are currently surfing a monstrous hype wave that shows no signs of dissipating anytime soon.
The band are doing little to stop it, in fact their live show actively encourages it. An atmosphere-building opening of robotic voices was only halted through a wall thumping beat.
While the opening vocal notes of ‘Lies’ from the pint sized Lauren Mayberry were obscured through sound issues any further abnormalities were quickly rectified. Not that the crowd were likely to notice with a flurry of colorful aesthetics highlighting an impressive light display.
This didn’t exactly seem like a performance from a band that was yet to unearth their debut album, but of an outfit that had been doing the rounds for a number of years.
That is, from an aesthetic stand point. Therein lies the crux of the reservations of CHVRCHES’ live show. The three-piece are ten steps ahead of where they should be.
The dazzling light show may have been pretty, but it demonstrated some serious flaws in the band’s lack of stage presence. At this stage of their career they should be focusing on the songs themselves.
Throughout the likes of ‘We Sink’, ‘Now Is Not The Time’ and ‘Lungs’ the audience, much like a dear caught in the gaze of bright lights, stood motionless.
That’s to be expected given the very premise of this show was to introduce Australia to the band and garner (even more) buzz for their upcoming album. But it again demonstrates where the band’s priorities should lie, in the performance and not what surrounds it.
However as ‘Gun’ and ‘Recover’ got bodies moving CHVRCHES sound was very close to its pristine recorded counterpart.
While Martin Doherty’s turn at centre stage on vocals for ‘Under The Tide’ –with wacky dance moves included – was the only real misgiving of the night as it showcased just how much the outfit rely on the almost helium afflicted vocals of Mayberry.
Yet for the majority of their set the band bashed out festival ready anthems.
It’s not hard to see CHVRCHES attaining a huge audience for their next tour Down Under for Laneway.
The several females who adorned shoulders during the encore may not be the best advertisement for the act’s fans, but CHVRCHES are undeniably entertaining.
A cover of Prince’s ‘I Would Die 4 U’ did little to deviate from the three-piece’s tried and tested synthpop formula, but the audience were long won over and that had little to do with their reminiscence of old Neighbours plot lines.
CHVRCHES first ever show in Melbourne clearly demonstrated that the band are going to be big. Their quick ascension and polished performance does little to dispel the notion that the three piece are taking the indie route to commercial success.
But as always with promo tours the question remains are CHVRCHES worthy of the hype?
The answer is unequivocally a no. Upbeat and fun, the Scottish outfit are a solid live act. However they didn’t quite do anything more than what most indie pop acts achieve on a regular basis.
Certainly not enough to justify the hysteria of band whose debut album is yet to be released.
Now Is Not The Time
Under The Tide
The Mother We Share
I Would Die 4 U (Prince cover)