|Open the Envelope
||[Nov. 20th, 2013|02:44 am]
CHVRCHES played at the Wiltern in Los Angeles last night and I was there. I almost wasn't. I'd never been to a Wiltern concert, so after a leisurely dinner at Beer Belly we wandered down to the venue, checked things out, discovered it was seated (odd) and no sooner had we sat down at 9pm or so than the band started. CHVRCHES. They played from just after nine until just after 10 (more odd). Someone mention to me this afternoon that the Wiltern has strict noise regulations, so this may have been a venue thing. Mind you, I did notice on Twitter today that their gig tonight in San Diego will be the same 9pm start.
CHVRCHES themselves were very good. They played just about all of the songs from their album and it lived up to that. Their songs had pretty much the same energy live as they do on the album, although the live experience did bring up a couple of the album's weaker tracks to the level of the best songs: Tether, for example, really benefits from the base that a set of concert-quality speakers provides. However, the superlative part of the show were the visuals. There were no fancy video displays; just a light show, but it was one of the best integrated I'd seen at a concert. I usually find concert lighting is just a bunch of spotlights kinda going along with the song, with the occasional track really meshing well, but I definitely got the sense that CHVRCHES cared about combining the audio and visual experience and had personally worked on the lighting design.
Of course this is my favourite video. Helloooo. Cyberpunk!
I wish the Wiltern had put the same level of attention to detail into the sound quality. At least Lauren Mayberry's voice was balanced well compared to the instruments, because the vocal mix alone was heavy on the treble. The sound was generally a bit quiet as well. Admittedly we were up in the nose bleeds (yet more odd), but if you book bands of a certain type to play in your venue, you're making a commitment to accommodate their sound.
Moaning about the venue aside. Lauren's inexperience as a frontperson came through a bit in her inter-song banter. In itself it was fine... when I could hear it. She needs to work out when to stop talking and wait for the cheering and yelling to die down a bit. I was a little disappointed to just get the album songs and only one song in the encore. Sure, they only have one album, but I would have loved to see them sneak a cover into the set somewhere: Duran Duran or Flock of Seagulls maybe?
I love CHVRCHES and I'd definitely see them again, especially with some more material under their belt, maybe another album. The only consequential problems with the show were with the venue, so if CHVRCHES were playing there again tomorrow, I'd be there there, but I don't think I could recommend it to a casual concertgoer; the experience isn't significantly better than listening to the album. Unless they were really into lighting.