This trip was semi-spontaneous (we only decided to go the day before the show itself, which was 3/13/16) and while Chvrches gave a great performance, the trip itself was overwhelmed by how terrible the weather and venue were. (More on that below the digital fold, if you will — I’ll start with the music!)
This is definitely one of the best shows I’ve been to, from the perspective of a band working their music into an engaging show. Chvrches is a great band on the merit of their music alone, and I was really excited by how well that carried through and was complimented by the performance. Some highlights:
- The band had a really natural, engaging presence; Lauren Mayberry did most of the talking, throwing in cute little stories and observations and even personal confessions in between songs, with Iain or Martin tossing in quips occasionally. She’s quite short, but she occupied the space on stage by moving through a lot of it and dancing, which I also thought was a great way to get the audience excited. I thought it added a lot, especially because it seemed very spontaneous, which lends some energy into the performance.
- The musical aspect was done very cleanly, with no part overpowering any of the others, which is a pitfall I think pokes up in a lot of live performances. Vocally, it came through soooo clear, which was really nice.
- They had a great setup with the lights, which included colored spotlights combined with some paneling in the back that showed off different patterns, timed in with all the songs and even specific beats on the music. It’s hard to describe just how well that portion of the show was done, but it fit especially well because of how electronic their music is.
The last time I saw Mitski, I heard PWR BTTM for the first time, and I’ve kind of come to really like hearing new-to-me bands live. I feel like it gives you a good feel for what they’re about as people, and so I purposefully didn’t look Potty Mouth up before going to the show.
Potty Mouth sits very squarely in rock as a genre, and I couldn’t help but think of other very punk, garage rock-y bands; I’m worried this sounds like I think they’re generic, which is not what I’m trying to say at all — it’s my personal favorite type of music, I love that like loud, doing-it-for-the-love-of-it, here’s-who-we-are feeling that comes from bands like that. It’s raw and passionate, and so when Potty Mouth came on stage (before they even started playing) I felt the stomache-ache that had built up take a few steps back, because I knew I was going to love it. You can check out some of their music here or here.
Some other things I liked:
- They did a feel-the-Bern shoutout, which was pretty cool tbh.
- They had merch out that said “gender has no genre”, which is also hell yeah.
- All of the outfits they were wearing looked fun and also like things I would love to wear.
Probably my only issue with their performance was one that happens at a lot of shows, where the way the microphones are set up, the vocals are either drowned out or too muddy to really be understood. This was pretty consistent throughout the first three or four songs, but things did get more balanced to the point where I could understand the lyrics later on.
fuck the venue, tbh
Oh my god, was this place a clusterfuck. Since coming home, I’ve looked up a few reviews, but I wish I’d done that before going. We got into Chicago hours early because Amanda had won a ticket which included a meet & greet with the band, three hours before the show started. It was raining, and so we had hours to kill, trying to walk around to find a place that would let us loiter around without really having to buy more than a cup of coffee, so of course we got in line pretty much as soon as the doors opened.
There are so many things I thought sucked about the venue, pretty much from this point on. The staff gender-segregated the lines to get in, because they wanted to search men and women differently. This is a mess if you’re in a mixed gender group, trying to find each other in the kind of bunker like building where you can only get cell service with tremendous luck. Getting to the Will-Call office involved wading through all of the lines of people being searched, and then back across to get your ticket scanned. I found out literally as my bag was being searched that umbrellas aren’t allowed in, as the venue considered them a weapon, and so that was confiscated.
When Tré made it through, they told him nobody was allowed to bring cameras in (although they didn’t say anything about the instax in my bag and there were three photographers up front during the Chvrches performance) so we had a whole mess trying to get ahold of each other (no reception, and we’d all been split up) so that he could take my keys and try to drop the camera off in the car and make it back before the show. He looked through the pile of umbrellas outside where security just threw them on the ground, probably only five minutes after it’d been taken, but mine had already been stolen or misplaced or something. Every member of the staff was rude, and the interior of the building was incredibly dirty and ugly, with patches of clashing paint that looked like somebody had decided to repaint the walls and got bored after half an hour (except dozens of times).
I’ll cut this off here, because I think it’d be a disservice to spend more page space ranting about the venue than on the music but truth be told I would probably only ever go to a show there again if it was an artist I was dying to see and couldn’t reasonably see them anywhere else.