Playing for the very first time in Singapore and at an intimate setting at Hard Rock Cafe at Cuscaden, I didn’t think I was ready for a night full of surprises and pure blithe. Upon receiving my complimentary choice of Cola as I entered the concert venue, I was glad that arriving 30 minutes before the expected starting time did not obstruct my view of the stage.
By the time PVRIS came on stage, the crowd was expectantly raring to go with screams of exhilaration; comprised of teenagers and young adults, it is hardly surprising of the demographics of PVRIS’ audience, considering that the upcoming Boston-based band was formed just 6 years ago.
The band opened with a mellow electro-rock single from their latest album, Heaven, which gave us the first taste of Lynn Gunn’s angelic and crisp vocals. Dressed comfortably in a black t-shirt matched with a pair of grey bootcut jeans, the 24-year-old was certainly the centre of attraction as a mini mosh pit started with everyone trying to reach as close to the frontwoman as possible.
However, my initial satisfaction with my view of the stage was quickly dismissed: as everyone was pushing and shoving towards the stage, it was difficult to see the entire band without having to stretch my entire torso. In fact, it took three good songs before the crowd calmed down and the view of the band performance became slightly clearer.
It also seemed to be difficult to hear Lynn, as the sound from her microphone was inconsistent in volume during the first half of the set. However, the affable crowd seemed unfazed by the audio issues, consistently screaming for the band and treating the band with applause and cheers every time a song performance has ended.
The hour-long concert setlist comprised of an entrancing selection of songs from both their debut and sophomore album, which definitely satisfied the crowd as they knew exactly the lyrics to every song. Everyone was filled with high spirits; singing, screaming, and swaying to slower songs whenever it was unanimously decided that Lynn Gunn’s vocals were meant to be appreciated rather than to be drowned out, such as the performances for Holy, Smoke, and Half.
As the trio was almost level with the crowd (their stage was probably only 3-inch high), it soon became apparent that one of the reasons why the stage was difficult to view for the majority was caused by the influx of concert-goers who were recording the concert with their phones. It wasn’t until the band has gone through half of the setlist before they (finally) expressed their displeasure on behalf of the rest of us.
Addressing to the young crowd, the 24-year-old frontwoman said: “I have a challenge for the next song, I don’t know if you guys are open for it but we could try – I know a lot of people are watching this show through their phones and not with both of their eyes; so this next song, we are challenging you to put your phones away.”
And stowing them phones away was definitely the best decision the crowd has ever done: the stage was finally in full view and the next song was worth giving our full attention for, as the band treated us with one of their biggest hits, What’s Wrong. In fact, this performance got everyone so mesmerised that nobody took their phones out for the rest of the concert, save a few who wanted to capture certain moments.
Noting PVRIS’ artistic direction in their aesthetic music videos, it was pretty interesting to see that the endearing frontwoman came across slightly shy despite her punk-rock demeanour. In fact, she did not set aside much time for conversations after posing that phone challenge to the crowd.
It was also a joy to watch lead guitarist Alex Babinski and bassist Brian MacDonald interacting with the fans at any opportunity that arises, and jumping and bobbing their heads to the music. Lynn Gunn demonstrated her versatility as a performer and vocalist, providing rhythm guitar parts to certain performances, and even got the crowd going ballistic when she joined her touring drummer to play a drum solo together with an accompanying mini drum set just behind her.
The best was saved for the last, and promising that they would make a return, PVRIS finished their set with their most popular song, My House, which saw Lynn crossing the security barricades to the best of her abilities to shake hands with the fans. Of course, the crowd wanted more and demanded for an encore, in which, the band relented and officially ended the night with No Mercy.
As PVRIS evidently made popular hits out of almost every single song that they have produced, it is difficult to pinpoint an exact highlight of the night – every single minute of the concert was cathartic and the synergy of the crowd left no chance for anyone to stand still. Everyone just kept moving and jumping to the music, leaving no one behind to not have a great time (unless you’re standing all the way at the back, then yes, you’re spared). If I have to give some notable mentions, the song performances of the night that truly stood out were You and I, What’s Wrong, Anyone Else, and of course, My House.
If I have to find something to cavil about the concert experience, it would be that the concert venue did not do the band justice. The stage was too small for the band to make many movements, and it was hardly elevated. Although the stage visuals made up for some of the audio problems, it was still quite a dismal sight to see that the band member on the keyboard synthesizer was not in clear view from the moshpit, and he had to be positioned at the back of the far right of the stage. On that note, it was really remarkable for the band’s touring drummer to play the drums so well, given the basic drum setup that the cramped area could allow.
It is difficult to categorise PVRIS strictly in one specific genre, as the band draws inspiration across a few. It is also because of this very fact that the band attracts an interesting variety of people amongst the crowd – there’s a good mix of metalheads donned in leather jackets and indie-rock lovers, and everyone else in between.
On that very night, the dynamically-charged trio proved that music truly connects people of different musical preferences and background.
PVRIS Asia 2018 – Live in Singapore Concert Setlist
- St. Patrick
- You and I
- Same Soul
- What’s Wrong
- Anyone Else
- My House
- No Mercy
Photos courtesy of Aloysius Lim for LAMC Productions.