By the time 7:00 rolled around and the doors of Detroit’s Masonic Temple opened, the line wrapped around the building and down the street. The crowd chatted eagerly as they made their way inside and to their seats, anticipation hanging heavy as they waited for who they came to see: Scottish electronic band Chvrches.
Comprised of Lauren Mayberry, Ian Cook, and Martin Doherty, Chvrches officially arrived on the scene in 2013 with their debut album, "The Bones of What You Believe," an album that was deemed “best new music” by Pitchfork and that left fans wanting more of their modern Depeche Mode sound and Mayberry’s piercing vocals. On September 25, this desire was answered by the release of sophomore album "Every Open Eye," and, a mere two weeks later, Chvrches arrived in Detroit, Michigan ready to perform.
At 8:00 PM sharp, opener Mansionair, a band native to Sydney, Australia appeared and the trio took over the crowd with their smooth-moving set. Although new to the scene—their first EP “Hold Me Down” was released in 2014—you couldn’t help but feel as though they had been gracing the stage for much longer. Starting off with a few of their own songs, such as their quietly building single “Speak Easy,” Mansionair transitioned into a smoothed cover of Future Island’s “Seasons (Waiting on You). Ending with perhaps their most popular “Hold Me Down,” the band managed to leave an impression while leaving the crowed buzzed and ready for the main show.
People moved closer to the stage, expectancy creating a tightness in the space, and erupted at the dimming of the lights and the first notes of “Never Ending Circles," an upbeat and redemptive song from the new album. Continuing with “We Sink,” the band set a pace, alternating between old hits with new singles—a pattern indiscernible by the audiences’ energy and knowledge of each song. Between the next few songs—“Keep You On My Side” with its fast-tempo lyrics and beats and the classic “Lies”—Mayberry interjected her quietly witty and personal quips, at one point explaining that she needs to respond to heckling or each gig would feel the same.
In fact, these remarks have become an Internet talking point when a video surfaced of Mayberry chastising an audience member for shouting out “Will you marry me?” at a recent concert. And these assertions are not needless; in an article for The Guardian, Mayberry, using her journalistic background, movingly wrote about the sexism and misogyny she faces as a female lead singer, especially online, and calls for a change. (Read the article here). At the concert, when you listen to her talk about eating a traditional Coney dog or how the Masonic is beautiful but also has the look of a horror movie (true) as well as taking on the audience foolishness with a weary strength, you can’t help but see how this same person can write lyrics such as, “You think I’ll apologize for things I left behind/ but you’ve got it wrong/ and I’m as sane as I ever was.”
The show continued to engage with the performance of songs like the dark “Science/Visions” and the buoyant yet confident “Bury It” while simple and geographic background lights framed the band and crowd calmed only between songs to catch their breath. The Temple felt a special surge when member Martin Doherty stepped forward to sing his “Under The Tide,” reminding everyone of the versatility and inclusiveness of the band. After ending with the anthem “Recover” and exiting the stage, the audience cheered for more, only to be answered by “Afterglow,” the slow and exiting song on Every Open Eye. All seemed to hold their breath as Mayberry’s powerful and emotional voice filled the space, the trance only broken with a sole voice screaming out “F**k Yeah!” The shared awe and silence being broken, Chvrches officially finished their set with “Mother We Share” and after, when the lights finally came on, there was a sense of disappointment and a wish that it could have lasted just a while longer.
Traveling to the West coast, Chvrches continues their tour in Seattle and Portland. One can only hope, after listening to their newest songs and continuing to love their originals, that Chvrches continues to make the honest and demanding music they are known for and that Mayberry continues to be that voice that shows us that we sometimes need to be heckled back.