Live Review: Chvrches, East India Youth

5 February 2016 | 2:29 pm | Ross Clelland

"She tells rambling stories of pants worn backwards and 50 SPF+ sunscreen before charging back into 'Make Them Gold', the backdrop lights sparkling."

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To quote a song older than the bands — and most of the audience: This is the modern world. Or rather, this is the way modern pop can be. There'll always be a place for the hairy boy with a Stratocaster and his Marshall stacks on 11, but this is different. A way probably more relevant to those checking their phones between songs — if not videoing the performance in the first place. 

William Doyle, aka East India Youth, is a guy in skinny suit and skinny tie behind a keyboard. But the pensive nature suggested by songs like the longing Looking For Someone is not entirely what you get. He throws himself into his music, battering his machines. The dancing is awkward, the wistfulness of his recorded work transformed into big-beat frustrations. He's sweating through that fashionably cut jacket after his half-hour.

Even the between-band music fits: Courtney Barnett's quizzical observations move into some 1980s Cure staring at the sea. Things have grown in this year or so — Chvrches have exploded. The boys perch on risers with their minimalist banks of technology. Expanses of stage. An overture that nobody's playing. Lauren Mayberry silhouetted by big blocks of light — with Never Ending Circles' huge swirling waves rolling at you — skips, bounds, twirls, slinks, stomps. In her black shorts and moonboots, she's the quiet girl at the gig who suddenly starts dancing like a motherfucker. Iain Cook occasionally steps forward with Hooky bass — in both the catchiness of what he's playing, and the hipslinging style that recalls New Order's absentee.

Through Keep You On My Side and the dervish turns polite Scots girl: "We are a band called Chvrches, thanks for coming out to see us..." She tells rambling stories of pants worn backwards and 50 SPF+ sunscreen before charging back into Make Them Gold, the backdrop lights sparkling. She occasionally thrashes into a wheeled-on drum array losing herself among the enormous clatter the band conjures. Gun provokes cheers from the longtermers, but seems almost simplistic against Every Open Eye's newer relationship-as-pinned-butterfly examinations.

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It's a good trick that while much of the racket is programmed and sampled, there's still emotion and humanity in it. Afterglow shows Mayberry really can sing. Leave A Trace and the towering Clearest Blue are songs of head and heart. The final Mother We Share brings those who weren't already on their feet to ovation. Chvrches are the now.