Indie-Electronica trio CHVRCHES released their fourth studio album “Screen Violence” in August 2021, the title a reference to the barrage of violent content flooding our screens during the COVID lockdowns at a time when the only way to stay connected is through our devices. After the record was created while the trio were separated in isolation, the band translated the show into a massive live production.
Opening the show was Ontario band Fanclubwallet, the project of Hannah Judge. With a more singer-songwriter approach, Fanclubwallet’s sound takes the layered shoegaze aesthetic and strips it down to allow Judge’s voice to be front and center, from the more delicate sound of their latest record “You Have Got to Be Kidding Me.”
With band members Iain Cook and Martin Doherty backed by drummer Jonny Scott all clad in black, a seemingly endless intro track had the electronic eeriness of a Wendy Carlos horror score ushered on singer Lauren Mayberry, twirling onto the stage into the track “He Said She Said.” Mayberry, clad in a bodycon black sequin mini-dress with glittery eyeliner wings painted for the back of the house, made the singer larger than life on the stage as she decried the sexism she experienced from men around her.
The set design for the “Screen Violence” Tour features a massive light rig that keeps the band extremely well lit, while evoking the mood of being on a movie set. Though the show usually features a large screen set piece, the LED lights were not illuminated.
What makes CHVRCHES such an enduring band is their ability to craft some of the most simplistic yet convoluted pop songs possible. The intricacies of Cook and Doherty’s compositions with the earworm hooks of Mayberry make the trio work like a well-oiled machine, even when Mayberry admits to flubbing a line in “Leave a Trace.” Jonny Scott’s drumming adds a live band element to the trio’s guitar oriented songs like “California” and especially on “How Not to Drown” which features vocals from Robert Smith of The Cure whose influence is felt in the goth rock moments on the record.
While the show was primarily pulling from “Screen Violence” tracks, there was a fairly even mix of songs from the band’s three previous records, especially their breakthrough record “The Bones of What You Believe.” What truly keeps the narrative of the show powering along is the impressive costume changes Mayberry switches through on stage. In the span of seconds, the singer goes from her glittery sequin dress to a leather clad biker chick, to the “Final Girl” having become the sole survivor of the night with the blood to show for it.
Intro/He Said She Said
Leave a Trace
How Not to Drown
Never Say Die
Asking for a Friend
The Mother We Share