Depending on who is playing, a concert can be a difficult place to bring your struggling relationship.
Friday night at the Hollywood Palladium, I saw first-hand the ramifications of this as a couple next to me went through a wide range of emotions during CHRVCHES‘ fantastic 13-song set. This show served one of the last two L.A. shows on their tour in support of their debut album, The Bones of What You Believe.
CHVRCHES is the synth-pop breakup album of the past few years, in my opinion. The band opened up with “We Sink,” a song that has the walk-down-the-aisle worthy chorus “I’ll be a thorn in your side ’til you die / I’ll be a thorn in your side for always / We sink, we lift our love.” Early on in the set, the couple next to me (and many more around me) were very PDA-heavy. Dancing, making out, grinding, the whole thing.
CHRVCHES live was built perfectly for the Palladium. My first time at the venue, I felt like I was transported back to a time where roller rinks were a common date night activity. The Palladium has that roller-rink feel to it and the 80’s synth-pop sound that CHVRCHES has mastered fit the venue like a glove.
As CHVRCHES continued through their highlight-filled set, the couple next to me began having a falling out. The breaking point was definitely “Recover,” one of the group’s more recognizable songs. As it kicked into the chorus, the girl refused to make eye contact or speak to her boyfriend during that song and that carried through the rest of the set. “Tether” had a similarly negative effect on the couple. I wish them the best.
Lead vocalist Lauren Mayberry’s in-between song banter was pretty light and fun, perhaps to combat with the heaviness of the lyrical content of many of their songs. Mayberry says the band reads their Twitter all the time and they always get a laugh when people say they are “pumped” to be seeing them tonight, because where they are from, “pumped” means “to shag.” Mayberry says she gets a laugh every time she sees that phrasing used.
They closed their set with “The Mother We Share,” which was my favorite song going into the show. After a two-song encore, the assembled crowd did not want to go home. Surely, many of them made immediate plans to see them again the following night at The Tower Theater.
Admittedly, I was late to the CHVRCHES bandwagon. I went to Coachella and didn’t see their set. After Friday’s show at the Palladium, that instantly became my #1 hindsight regret of 2014.
The next time CHVRCHES rolls into town, you can bet I won’t miss them. Unless, of course, I’m in a struggling relationship at the time. I know better now.
Words: Mark E. Ortega
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