Combine innocently accented vocals with bright and attention-grabbing backgrounds and you have the basis of the Still Corners and Chvrches show at DC’s Black Cat. Tessa Murray, lead singer of London-based Still Corners, was the mellow, rooted, emotionally powered lead singer in the duo. Opposite her in most way was raucous and multi-talented Greg Hughes, from the American southwest. Murray was content to keep her feet still and simply raise her shoulders very slightly to her own chords. Hughes, however, was very close to actually wrecking his entire cubicle of synths and keyboards as his guitar shredding possessed him.
Murray’s inviting tones have to rage a battle with Hughes’ intense heartbeats and horror movie sound effects, but her serenades cut through everything he had to offer. Still Corners has a real yin and yang stage presence, brought together visually by a spectacle projected behind them. It looks like old B-movie footage combined with a fever dream. The touring drummer had unfortunate placing on stage and had that laser in his eyes the entire time.
In keeping with UK-based female vocalists, enter Chvrches, performing in the District of Columbia for the first time. The Glasgow, Scotland-based trio came to the stage looking like two big brothers leading their little sister into a football game again with the neighborhood ruffians. Her eye makeup had a lot to do with that inference. Instead of the projector screen backdrop, in it’s place stood five tresses with at least four giant LED pads each. In between them were giant strobe bars. It was interesting having only a few soft cans of light on the front of the band, and that hardcore backlighting. The boys, Iain on the left, and Martin on the right, took their positions on either side of Laura, like sentries.
Chvrches then delved into a largely new set in light of their first full-length album, The Bones of What you Believe, due out in September. It’s hard to take your eyes off of front-and-center Laura, with her entrancing voice, stern gaze and sense of comfort on stage. But when Iain and Martin harmonize from their podiums, you can’t help but ping-pong your head back and forth at the display. Martin has a raw style that really emerges when he takes over center stage for “Tide,” his one song on lead vocals and as a contagious dancer. The rest of the time, he is just as fun to watch on his electric drum, there’s a tribal quality about the way he smacks out the beats.
With a promising album on the horizon and a largely sold out tour, Chvrches has accomplished a great deal in a short amount of time, and it will be interesting to see where they go from here.