On entering the basement venue that is Birthdays, I was met with a dim room with a tiny stage at the other end, blue stage lighting spilled out across the floor creating an expectant atmosphere for one of Chvrches last intimate gigs.
Jen Long of BBC Three fame was DJing, as the tiny venue soon became packed out, filled by eager fans with the sounds of Chvrches debut ‘The Bones Of What You Believe’ still ringing fresh in their ears. The album had been released only two days earlier.
The lights went down, and a simple but pounding beat started up from the stage, as Lauren, Ian and Martin shyly shuffled their way on stage. The beat transformed into ‘We Sink’, Lauren in a Bikini Kill top, took control from the off. Retreating into the dark to dance when she could. It was obvious from the first note that the tracks live take a different shape form the album. The snyths are more prominent – as are the guitars and samples. The bass thuds were so hard and the lights so frantic that you could have been at a dirty underground rave, not north east London at half nine on a Wednesday night.
As the band talked to the crowd, it’s was plain to see that they’re overcome by the number of fans that have crammed into the small basement to see them. “Hi we’re Chvrches and well, this is kind of our album lunch party” announced Lauren. The crowd went nuts as she giggles simultaneously. The crowd didn’t really dance, more looked on in awe as the trio did their thing and did it well.
The room became incredibly hot, the kind of dry heat you can taste and smell. It obviously got to the band as both Ian and Martin were dripping in sweat, and between songs Lauren has to do “a hair rearrange because my heads so hot”. She then inadvertently worked some more of her cute/ innocent charm by calling their debut “our baby” as Martin quipped “Yeah some babies can f**king ugly though”. The crowd laughs as he tried to dig himself out of that whole. The trio quickly launched into the first single of the night ‘Gun’, causing a small group to break into dance at side of stage.
A quick switch around saw Martin take centre stage for ‘Under The Tide’. “This is from our album out now, first time I’ve been able to say that!” Lauren played snyths here, after “nearly passing out” during ‘Recover’ due to the heat. “It’s ok for you, you can breathe easy, I have to think about my diaphragm and everything” went the Chvrches banter.
‘Under The Tide’ saw the atmosphere take a deeper route as the synths, bass and lights were all cracked up a notch to drop the throng back into the warehouse rave style of the start of the set.
Chvrches ended with fan and radio favourite ‘The Mother We Share’, which produced a clap along to the intro and then a huge dance/sing along to the shows final number. The trio thanked the crowd for coming and then left the stage, sweaty but elated. The audience slowly shuffled their way out of the basement, leaving two street dances busting some insane moves to the DJ as the techie tried to clear up around them.
With all the hype Chvrches have received it was great to see the band living up to and exceeding the hype on record and live. One thing is for sure ‘religion’ is much more fun with Chvrches.