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CHVRCHES Mesmerize The Bourbon Theater

Story and Photos: Spencer Fleming

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Now back to the story....

Lincoln was the place to be Wednesday night (6/15) as synth-pop legends CHVRCHES made their way to the Bourbon Theater by way of Omaha.

With the Admiral Theater (formerly Sokol Auditorium) still putting the final touches on their remodel, the show was shuffled to the Bourbon Theater with only days left until showtime. A post from the Admiral about the re-arrangement and some photos of their near-finished venue were met with a bit of backlash. While I understand folks being upset about the short notice, a drive to Lincoln is hardly an inconvenience considering what we've just gone through as music fans. How quickly our lizard brains forget.

Previous to this show I wasn't super familiar with all of CHVRCHES work, but I had heard a few songs and I knew they were part of the Deftones curated Dia De Los Deftones festival appearing directly before the Sacramento legends themselves. Knowing Chino from Deftones is a huge fan of synth-based artists like Depeche Mode and Erasure their inclusion makes total sense.

I was lucky enough to catch a ride with my concert buddy Shawn and I had a blast talking shows we had been to in the last few months and stuff we have coming up on the calendar. We share a lot of the same tastes for metal and hardcore, but we're also both old enough to know there's no such thing as guilty pleasures. So while I'm normally chasing down a metal or rock show it's nice to get a break and do something in the indie-pop world like CHVRCHES.

We arrived just after the doors opened, but luckily there wasn't much of a line. We made our way to the front of the stage and I hung out with Shawn until it was time for photos. While we were just shooting the breeze I noticed a fan in front of me had a Warped Tour tattoo with a signature on it. It was really interesting so I asked if I could grab a pic and inquired about who's signature was on it. He said it was legendary founder Kevin Lyman! Way cool. He said he followed the tour in 2013. I've been to many a Warped Tour in my day. Surviving just one tour stop without being scorched to death is a feat in itself, but following the whole tour? That's a whole new level of dedication.

The first band up was Fanclubwallet. I kept getting the name confused with the power pop group Teenage Fanclub. The band had some straight forward pop ballads and fit in with the Indie-pop crowd well. Their shoegazy melodies had the crowd swaying and warmed the room up nicely. At one point the bass player played the notes from Super Mario Bros. World 1-level 2. You probably don't even need to Google it. Dunna dunna dun ah, dunna dunna dun ah. IYKYK.

In between sets I got a Facebook message with a picture of me taking photos. It was my buddy Robert Willis! I found Robert in the second row, hence the photo of me taken from behind. We just geeked out on all the shows coming up and all the good stuff we've seen over the years. Robert is all about the indie scene. He knows all the cool bands and is always telling me about stuff I've never heard of. He saw Phantogram at the Waiting Room when it was still in its infancy. Apparently there used to be a huge divider in the Waiting Room? Even I didn't know that. He said his holy grail of memorabilia is the signed Phantogram poster that hangs on the Waiting Room wall. Marc if you read this, hook a dude up! Haha. Just kidding. I don't see how they could let it go now that it's a part of their history.

After hanging with Robert it was time for CHVRCHES! I made my way to the photo pit ready to party. Smoke billowed across the stage as the band stepped forth. CHVRCHES kicked off their set with "He Said She Said" from their latest release Screen Violence and the crowd went wild!

By now the room was pretty packed. Despite the venue change and the show being on a weekday there was a strong showing from the Omaha/Lincoln music scene.

Lead singer Lauren hyped the crowd with her light and bouncy dance moves, prancing about from one side of the stage to the other. Her bandmates Lain and Martin stayed fairly stationary behind their keyboard setups, but made their way to the front a few times to showcase their guitar skills.

I shot photos during "He Said She Said" and "Forever" before looking up during the third song "Leave A Trace" to see my old friend Dottie! The last time I saw Dottie I was trying to get into the sold out Panic! at the Disco show at CHI Center. That was back before I knew the ins and outs of photo passes and media relations. I was just trying to get in, much less shoot the show.

Lauren and her mates did a phenomenal job dazzling the crowd with their synth-pop mastery. Lauren did several outfit changes throughout the set and had funny quips all night. "I've got to turn this fan on, it's hot as a dog up here". Her Scottish accent was the cherry on top.

The band sounded amazing as they blazed through their fourteen song set. There was a heavy concentration on their latest album Screen Violence, but they made sure to hit all of their other works too.

After a small break the band came back for a three song encore of "Asking For A Friend", "The Mother We Share", and "Clearest Blue" before thanking everyone for coming out. As I stood at the back waiting for Shawn and Dottie to make their way to the lobby I noticed that every single fan stayed until the very last note. CHVRCHES had the room hypnotized from start to finish.

The band has already had a huge surge in popularity over the last few years, but I could easily see them breaking into the mainstream even further. When the topic of best synth-pop bands comes up, New Order, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran... CHVRCHES should most definitely be included.

A huge thanks to CHVRCHES and Bourbon Theater for photo access.

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