Chvrches bring synth-pop anthems to White Oak Music Hall

Iain Cook and Lauren Mayberry onstage at the Lawn at White Oak Music Hall
Iain Cook and Lauren Mayberry onstage at the Lawn at White Oak Music Hall Photo by Violeta Alvarez
White Oak Music Hall
April 26, 2019

Since forming in 2011, the Scottish trio Chvrches has been steadily rising through the ranks of their indie peers.

Their debut album, The Bones of What You Believe, introduced fans to the group’s 80s-inspired synth pop, with Lauren Mayberry’s shivering vocals acting as the cherry on top of an already infectious sound.

Follow-ups Every Open Eye and Love Is Dead cemented the band’s standing as one of the best electronic-leaning pop acts of the modern era, but they never quite achieved mainstream success with a chart-topping single… until last month.

A collaborative effort with producer/DJ Marshmello finally lifted Chvrches to the uppermost echelons of the mainstream and likely inspired this latest tour, which began less than a year after the release of the group’s last album.

With three full-length records to their name, Chvrches have officially reached the point where they can disappoint fans by excluding certain songs from their set list. And unfortunately, “Here With Me” didn’t make the cut Friday night.

But the omission was barely noticeable as Chvrches served up hit after hit at a sold-out White Oak Music Hall, performing more than a dozen songs from their aforementioned albums – including “God’s Plan” and “Under The Tide,” during which the microphone was handed to Martin Doherty as Mayberry shifted to the keyboard.

The band showcased its anthemic prowess early with opener “Get Out,” which transitioned nicely into the older cuts “Bury It” and “We Sink.” It wasn’t until halfway through the show that the group slowed things down for the moody “Science/Visions.”

click to enlarge These boots were made for walkin' - PHOTO BY VIOLETA ALVAREZ
These boots were made for walkin'
Photo by Violeta Alvarez
Early in the evening, Mayberry – who was donning a tutu throughout the performance – asked locals to help her identify a bug that had landed on her before she rescued the insect from her dress and deposited it near the corner of the stage.

Later, Chvrches paid reverence to the Queen of Houston by dropping a few “Beyoncé-isms” before confessing to sampling vocals from Fleetwood Mac’s “Big Love” for one of their songs.

“The secrets have been revealed,” Mayberry told the crowd. “Tomorrow in Pitchfork: Chvrches sued by Fleetwood Mac!”

Friday night’s performance didn’t display anything new for the established pop-rockers, but it marked a first for a lot of fans in the audience – many of whom were young girls, accompanied by their smiling parents.

“We don’t get to do any of this if you guys don’t actually listen to the tunes and come to the shows,” Mayberry told the crowd as the encore began. “So thank you guys so much for doing that.”

Fortunately, even without the support of their latest single, the band’s act remains fresh enough to sell out a 2,000-person venue in America’s fourth largest city. And judging by how many young fans were present coupled with the number of people who had to be turned away from the ticketing window, Chvrches won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

Get Out
Bury It
We Sink
God’s Plan
Under The Tide
Leave A Trace
Clearest Blue

Mother That We Share
Never Say Die
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Matt is a regular contributor to the Houston Press’ music section. He graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in print journalism and global business. Matt first began writing for the Press as an intern, having accidentally sent his resume to the publication's music editor instead of the news chief. After half a decade of attending concerts and interviewing musicians, he has credited this fortuitous mistake to divine intervention.
Contact: Matthew Keever