CHVRCHES @ The Olympia

The success of a new band can often be judged not by the number of albums sold, or the airplay they receive, but the number of ticket stubs at gigs.

Glaswegian trio Chvrches have not had an overly successful debut album, and it’s rare to hear their songs on any Irish radio station.

Instead the band, like many others, has been using the internet to gain notoriety. Releasing their music via Spotify, Youtube and free/cheap downloads, the band has gained an underground following.

Originally booked to play The Academy, demand for tickets forced them to move the gig to The Olympia Theatre, a venue over three times the size. If a band’s venue size is a fair way to judge their popularity, then Chvrches have hit the big time.

Lead singer Lauren Mayberry walks on stage to the backing track of ‘We Sink’, while strobe lights half-blind the crowd. As her soft, high vocals begin to ring around the venue, she is joined by the bands remaining members, two keyboardists who occasionally pick up a bass and/or guitar.

Blending synth-pop and electronica, the band’s debut album ‘The Bones of What You Believe’ is an attempt to make pop songs worth dancing to.

Bass notes that wouldn’t seem out of place in a Skrillex song are complemented by Mayberry’s catchy vocals, even if it’s nearly impossible to decipher her lyrics.

It seems even fans in the front rows all have their own interpretations of Mayberry’s lyrics. If you wore headphones and looked at the crowd, you wouldn’t be criticised for thinking they were all screaming along to entirely different songs.

Yet the one thing the crowd have in common is their reaction to those on stage. Making 1,200 people move at once is tough, to make them dance would seem impossible, but a quick look at the band and it’s easy to see why the crowd feel comfortable dancing.

The trio move on stage as if they were in a nightclub, never standing still for a second.

The fact that two-thirds of the band are stuck behind keyboards doesn’t stop them, and neither does the awkwardness of having to fill an entire stage with just three people.

While Chvrches have no problem pulling of the show on their own, the necessity for a backing track eventually gets frustrating.

The lack of so many live instruments means that the crowd has paid €€25 euro to listen to someone sing along to a CD, and while the light show helps to take the audience’s attention away from this, it’s hard not to think of what the sound would be like if the band sprung for a few session musicians.

Jason Brennan

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