Scottish electro-pop trio Chvrches made their long-awaited return to San Francisco, playing a Sunday night set for the Treasure Island Music Festival. The band were scheduled to play Outside Lands last year, but ended up stuck in Canada over visa issues (they eventually played a Bay Area show later in the fall, at the Fox Theater in Oakland). So this was their first proper SF show (if you count an artificial island in the middle of the Bay as SF proper) in quite some time. The “curse of San Francisco,” as lead singer Lauren Mayberry called it, was not totally gone, however, as the beginning of their set was delayed by an electrical problem on the stage. Basically, it appeared that someone had unplugged the stage, which was the one anomaly in a very on-schedule two-day event. Unfortunately, this meant that the set was probably cut short, since they ended at the originally slotted time.
Still, once they emerged— rather dramatically on a foggy, windy night— the crowd went fairly nuts, and the band matched their energy, with Mayberry bounding around the stage, stopping every now and then to pose dramatically in front of the band’s always-impressive lighting effects. The fog and wind only added to the dramatic effect, even though Mayberry noted that her long tutu-ish skirt might not’ve been as good an idea as she’d envisioned given the blustery setting (and wryly noted that her trusty bike shorts addressed any modesty concerns). They opened strong, with arguably the best track from their excellent sophmore LP Every Open Eye, “Never Ending Circles.” If it’s not a better song than the album’s first single, “Leave A Trace,” it’s definitely a better song with which to announce your presence, with its thumping, almost jarring beat and soaring chorus. Of course, you could say that for about 80% of Chvrches’ songs, but this one takes it up a notch.
Though Chvrches toured seemingly nonstop for their first record, they still devoted about half the setlist to The Bones Of What You Believe, and it’s hard to imagine a Chvrches set without “The Mother We Share” and “We Sink.” But the new songs fit right in, and on the whole, an argument could be made that Chvrches’ sound—catchy, dancy, electronic music with energy and soul—is exactly like what popular music should sound like in 2015.
Chvrches @ Treasure Island Music Festival, San Francisco CA, October 18, 2015
Never Ending Circles
Keep You on My Side
Make Them Gold
Under the Tide
Leave a Trace
The Mother We Share