“Like Alice Cooper without the snake”

“Like Alice Cooper without the snake”-attachment0

Photos by Rich Orris

Despite what its name might suggest, Chvrches’ Saturday, Nov. 29 show was neither quiet nor mired in reverence. Not that the audience at the sold-out show was expecting hymns, but from the opening notes of “We Sink” (a song far more buoyant that submerging), Chvrches provided its own dancey brand of ecclesiastical experience.

Each song came with its own shade of lights: Pink and orange for “Gun,” which front woman Lauren Mayberry sang, all stand-and-deliver-like, through the seizure-inducing mayhem of a strobe. To Mayberry’s left, Iain Cook played a touch pad with his hands. No special flourishes — the melodically dense and beat-heavy songs were allowed to to breath in the crowded room.

Blue was the color of “Lungs,” the sweet, poppy-ness of the song wafting almost gauzy over the electronic bass, that insistent jolt-pulse. And green was the color for “Science/Visions,” haunting even as it built in intensity with both Cook and Martin Doherty lending their voices to the sonic tapestry.

Even though the show could have a been an exercise in color therapy (something for the band to consider on future tours — this one marked the group’s fourth to the U.S, this year, and their first stop in Asheville), it was definitely more about showcasing the new tracks from this year’s release, The Bones of What You Believe. Almost all of the songs from their set came from that album, including “Strong Hand,” released as a bonus track through iTunes. That offering, with its long, soft start, turned into a slow dance for plenty of couples (and at least one trio of guys).

“Now Is Not the Time,” which illicit a cheer from the crowd at its start, was the only song from Chvrches’ Recover EP, released in March of this year. While not quite organic in nature, the song’s rhythm ebbed and flowed. Doherty took a guitar solo silhouetted against a backdrop of pink and orange haze.

Juxtaposed against insistent, fast-paced offerings like the galloping “Lies” and the ‘80s-influenced “Night Sky,” the cooler, more nocturnal “Recover” was a standout. The distant bass and spooky momentum of the song provided a perfect canvas for Mayberry’s shimmery vocal. “Tether,” too, had a slow and soulful moment before launching back into the dance beat that ran like a thread throughout the evening.

There was some confusion when the house light came on after the band’s final song, but most of the crowd stayed around, stomping and clapping for an encore. When Chvrches returned to the stage, Mayberry announced, “We’ve never had a foot rumple before. I feel like Alice Cooper, but without the giant snake.”

Setlist:

1. We Sink
2. Gun
3. Lungs
4. Now Is Not the Time *
5. Lies
6. Night Sky
7. Strong Hand
8. Science/Visions
9. Recover
10. Tether
11. Under the Tide
12. The Mother We Share
Encore: By the Throat

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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts writer and editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs.

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