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Chvrches/Still Corners

Electro acts struggle to hold attention at a sold-out Mohawk
Abby Johnston, 4:20pm, Thu. Jun. 6, 2013

All three of Mohawk’s decks overflowed with the usual fashionable crowd, yet more than a few young professionals had slugged over from work dressed in their weekday gear of starched button-downs and slacks. As openers Still Corners noted while addressing an inattentive audience, this show had been sold-out for over two months.

“You’re probably wondering why we’re still up here,” singer Tessa Murray quipped. I could hear a smattering of cheers from the back of the venue.

Warming up for the buzz band of the moment isn’t always easy. When the opening London trio got tapped for a North American run with new electro sweethearts Chvrches, they were surely eager for the exposure. With that break, however, comes a lot of impatient crowds.

As Still Corners wound down with “Berlin Lovers,” from sophomore release Strange Pleasures, it dawned on me that an act playing together since 2007 was opening for an ensemble with nothing more than one clipped EP, March’s Recover, to its name. Sadly, I’d missed every one of their many appearances at South By Southwest this year, when they were awarded the inaugural Grulke Prize as a developing non-U.S. act.

Glasgow trio Chvrches soon took the stage, led by pixie-sized Lauren Mayberry firing off 2012 single “Lies” at the onset. After the brief singalong, the group headed into unfamiliar territory, blending lush, unharnessed electro-pop. Mayberry’s Scottish chirp guided everything along, maneuvering a well-crafted set built around the remaining three singles on their much-celebrated EP. Still, unfamiliar with the non-hits, many in the crowd fell into disengaged chatter.

Chvrches remains a smartly-marketed outfit that’s conquered the Googling conundrum by swapping a “u” for a “v” in their moniker. Like many of their electronic contemporaries, they operate in Tumblr instead of a traditional website, making it easy to share content. And yet, no amount of PR can make up for the fact that no one had access to the songs from their upcoming LP. Mayberry acknowledged this toward the end of the set.

“We’re going to play some new songs, but I guess they’re all new since you don’t have the album yet,” she said, explaining that the wait would soon be over.

None of this is to say that Chvrches wasn’t good. In fact, there were certain moments of near brilliance, like hearing dance-pop anthem of the moment, “Mother We Share,” blasted full throttle. It just would’ve made better sense to see them after they embark on tour this summer with Depeche Mode. Despite selling out venues across the country, the band still plays too green to make a compelling headliner.

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