Each week, Lizzy Goodman guides you through the dirty streets of rock and roll.
I first suspected there was something cool going on with Chvrches when random dudes kept insisting the singer, Lauren Mayberry, looks exactly like a girl who once broke their heart. That’s a good sign. Usually in this rock world you see the reverse. Boys onstage, all elegantly disheveled and dexterous with the guitar, making girls forget their boyfriends (or girlfriends -- I’ve seen it) in a haze of I know we’re supposed to be together fantasy. It’s nice, for a change, to see boys losing their minds a little bit over a cute girl on a big stage playing great songs.
"Delicate, ethereal and weirdly fierce, by the end of the gig I too (almost) felt convinced she’s the rock star incarnation of a girl who broke my heart."
I would have rewarded one of my male friends with a spot as my plus one to the Glaswegian band’s recent show at Mercury Lounge, but in a display of uncharacteristic foresight, they all bought tickets. I was extra impressed by the lengths to which they’d gone to be there when Mayberry told me that the ticket allotment for that gig was mostly snapped up by scalpers, or, as she called them, “touts.” As in: “bloody effing ticket touts!" “Whilst we are incredibly lucky at this stage that there is so much interest in our band, there is also a downside to that,” she said. “Some sneaky bottom feeders buy up tickets as soon as they come out and actual fans of the band can't get them.” Among the qualities I adore in the Scottish is their fieriness. That so many of them are redheads has always seemed to me to be an external reflection of their core emotional temperament. The band was pissed. And they retaliated in the best way, by playing again a few nights later at a secret show in Brooklyn.
Live, the trio is still getting the hang of translating their intimate but urgent synthesized songs into the kind of atmospheric sensory overload I have no doubt they will eventually deliver. It’s only a matter of time. And in Mayberry they have a born star. Delicate, ethereal and weirdly fierce, by the end of the gig I too (almost) felt convinced she’s the rock star incarnation of a girl who broke my heart.
So: what’s up with the UK right now? There suddenly seem to be a lot of particularly exciting – and very different sounding - bands. I wrote about Savages a few weeks ago, hands down one of the best live acts I’ve seen in years. Like Savages, Chvrches have been together a ridiculously short time considering the impact their having Stateside; they’ve yet to finish recording their debut full-length in part because they keep getting pulled away to do things like, you know, open for Depeche Mode. “Mindblowing,” was Mayberry’s assessment of that offer. “Hopefully it's not a very well thought out Catfish style prank...” But she insists that Chvrches not part of a unified movement. Still, she obliged me and happily rattled off a list of a bunch of other UK bands to check out including Savages, PINS, Young Fathers and United Fruit. So, me and Spotify are going to form our own little scene. You’re invited.