Still Corners and CHVRCHES
June 17, 2013
Interestingly, the Still Corners and CHVRCHES show at Webster Hall back in June marked the end of an insane period in which over the course of 10 or 11 days I saw over 35 different sets of live music. Of course some of the highlights of that week included the Soul Rebels at the opening night of the New Music Seminar New York Festival; Chateau Marmont at Piano’s; The Grizzled Mighty at Piano’s – all part of the New Music Seminar Festival; Big Daddy Kane at Tompkins Park/Von King Park in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn as part of this year’s Summerstage; Beast Patrol at the BMI Creators Showcase at the Northside Festival; Bambara and A Place to Bury Strangers at the official kickoff of Northside at the Music Hall of Williamsburg; the mighty Light Asylum at Cameo Gallery; and a few others. So with all of that live music, some things admittedly fall through the cracks a little bit. (Admittedly, I’ll be catching up on all kinds of posts for quite some time but someone has to do it, right?)
Still Corners was touring to support their latest Sub Pop Records release, Strange Pleasures. And as an album, it reflects a subtle change of sonic direction for the band as it employs the extended use of synthesizers throughout all of the album’s arrangements. And it adds a palpable and uneasy tension to a sound that has remained haunting and leaves a lingering, ghostly presence. In some way, it’s a sound heavily inspired by film noir as it by cool, foggy London nights. Live, the stunningly beautiful Murray is an unusual presence. Unlike the typical frontperson who by their very nature has to be upfront and in your face, Murray is charming in a wry, deliberate, British fashion but coquettishly coy – to the point of seeming self-conciously reticient. Granted, the material isn’t about her but more about how her ethereally cooed vocals float through moody songs and express a deeply plaintive longing. In some way, she sounds like the sirens of Greek myth – enraptured and ensnarled by her gentle cooing, you’d likely smash your little boat on the rocky shore …
When I had mentioned i was attending this show through a Facebook status, a fellow blogger and respected colleague replied that he was envious, and that he was desperate to catch the Glasgow, Scotland-based CHVRHCES. On paper, they’re a good pairing – you’d have two synth based acts whose sound was primarily synth based. And strangely enough, their frontpeople were kind of similar with some differences. Frontperson Lauren Mayberry however, managed to seem much like a bundle of taut, nervous energy making her coquettishness seem awkward – almost endearingly so. But their sound, which owed quite a debt to 80s synth pop and New Wave struck me as wholly original and didn’t do much for me. The Webster Hall crowd was losing their shit but I’ve heard that kind of thing before, back in the 80s.
What i can say is that their set was the loudest set i’ve covered in recent memory. As I was shooting during their set, a photographer who I’ve run into once or twice before told me that their set was so bass heavy that he felt as though he got punched in the chest – he was actually having trouble breathing. I actually noticed that the entire room (and it’s a rather large room, at that) was rattling within the building. I’ve never experienced and it felt as though the building might collapse. Holy shit.
The Webster Hall audience totally enraptured by the night’s events.
For these photos and more from this show, check out the Flickr set here: