CHVRCHES sold out Webster Hall, a large and popular venue in New York City, off the strength of material from just an EP. It’s a feat that not many new artists can boast, and one that reflects just how quickly CHVRCHES’ popularity is growing.
Ever since they emerged last fall, the Scottish trio have managed to skirt around the predictability that embodies the indie-pop world today. Where other synth and electropop artists have pulled elements from different genres (R&B, psychedelic rock, hushed, gloomy ballads) CHVRCHES have stayed true to what they know, and clearly excel at, with majestic pop productions void of any gimmicks. In doing so, they’ve won over swarms of dedicated fans.
Perhaps this is a testament to their lead singer, Lauren Mayberry. Whimsically adorable, Mayberry’s character possesses just as many quirks as her unique voice does. You might be tempted to cast her in the cute lead singer role and attribute the band’s success to that; by all accounts she’s meant to be the star of the trio. But you may not necessarily be right in doing so. In comparison to the odd but captivating stage presence of Purity Ring lead singer Megan James or the star power of Grimes, Lauren seems to be more reserved about stepping out of her comfort zone. The audience though, seemed to be alright with that.
CHVRCHES’ popularity lies in something more than just Mayberry’s appeal. One of the more interesting aspects of the show last night actually had nothing to do with what happened on stage, but instead what was going on in the audience. After going to hundreds and hundreds of shows, you get pretty good at guessing what the crowd is going to be like and what type of person might be standing next to you. CHVRCHES’ crowd was suprising. Watching over the balcony of the mezzanine were bros in collared, button up shirts that clearly used “Recover” to get through late nights on Wall Street. Next to us was a kid wearing an Azealia Banks shirt with touches of pink in his hair. In front was a man who looked to be around the same age as my dad. And once the music played, none of these people seemed out of place.
It’s because CHVRCHES success is grounded in their accessibility. While there is certainly an emotional depth to their music, it’s not one you have to dig very far to get. CHVRCHES want you to understand where they’re coming from, they want you to sing along, they want you to dance, they want you to relate. There’s no big picture you have to “get” about CHVRCHES which, to be clear, isn’t a bad thing. This easily digestible, celestial pop music is completely authentic to them; and in their unabashed delivery of it, they’ve found a home across all demographics. In the indie/electro-pop world, that’s not something many artists have achieved.
“We have a studio album on the way, coming out this September,” Mayberry told the crowd last night. “I know a lot of people think we were lying, but we’re not, it’s coming.” And with fans who would buy tickets to a show just based off a handful of tracks, it’s a pretty safe bet they won’t mind the wait.