From my angle way in the back the group looked phenomenal in front of the LED screens, and all the bright lights added a quite visceral and almost psychedelic layer to the group’s self-described “synthmo” sounds. The sound mix on the edges of the venue left a lot to be desired, but from dead center every note came in clear, and the band sounded like a real powerhouse with their mighty synthesized drum raps and the breathtaking vocal stylings of frontwoman Lauren Mayberry.
But Chvrches weren’t the only band on a powerful Sunday bill at Terminal 5. Opening for the electropop headliners were rock ‘n roll four-piece Potty Mouth, and while their music didn’t exactly match Chvrches as far as sound, the energy and execution was absolutely there. To be real, without the high level of energy that the Chvrches faithful brought out to the venue Potty Mouth might have just stolen the show.
Potty Mouth’s tunes teetered just on the edge of punk without ever fully committing to the confrontational genre, but the songwriting displayed clear pop influences, and it was all packaged into a catchy rock sound that seemed to really resonate with the Chvrches crowd.
Potty Mouth has a really cohesive look, some of the best dye jobs I have ever seen, and I am personally a sucker for any band that fuses a little lackadaisical choreography into their set like the little two-step that went on between lead singer Abby Weems and bass player Ally Einbinder. The group’s last NYC show before the opening slot at Radio City with Chvrches was a headlining gig at Williamsburg’s Baby’s All Right a few weeks ago; if they keep bringing this level of showmanship and musical talent to their shows and records, venues the size of Baby’s will soon be a distant memory.
The crowd noticeably enjoyed Potty Mouth, but they were there for Chvrches, and as soon as the Glasgow-based synth-pop trio hit the stage the intensity and decibel level of the crowd went through the roof. The band only has two or three true hit songs, but you’d never have known it from the crowd last night who as a collective seemed to know every word. By mid-set, I wasn’t sure whether I was listening to reverb on Mayberry’s microphone or the dulcet tones of the capacity crowd singing along.
What Chvrches does is not exactly unique to them, but they do it at a very high level. Somewhere along the line, the EDM-loving masses realized that they needed more than just rhythms to ride and beats to drop. Those fans found a desire for songs that have just a little more emotional meat on their bones than what the average DJ is putting out, and groups like Chvrches found their niche. And thank god they did, because what modern synth-pop bands are doing in 2016 is a lot more fun than boilerplate EDM.