Aisling Kraus reviews three of the top acts at this year’s Electric Picnic
It would be a mistake to be fooled by Chvrches frontwoman Lauren Mayberry’s petite stature and youthful vocals. Similar to her songwriting abilities, her stage presence is huge and captivating. With the set’s opening track ‘Clearest Blue’, taken from the Glasgow-based electronic band’s eagerly anticipated upcoming album Every Open Eye, the threesome start as they mean to go on for the next hour, filling the already packed arena with sonic energy of massive proportions.
The clean sound which has earned Chvrches so much acclaim resonates even more when created live than on their recordings — their signature gleaming synths and rock-solid beats are intensely powerful and can be physically felt as well as heard. Combined with Mayberry’s striking vocals, it’s an intoxicating mix, and everyone present is enthralled. Her interaction with the crowd is as charming as her performance, as she chatters about the group’s previous Electric Picnic performance in 2013.
Their signature gleaming synths and rock-solid beats are intensely powerful and can be physically felt as well as heard
The band is as consistent as ever as they surge full-force through the setlist, which includes most of the tracks from their popular debut album. Newly released single, the catchy ‘Leave A Trace’ is a distinct highlight in the set, and fuels excitement for the new record. For a few moments, Martin Doherty steps out from behind his keyboards and synthesisers, taking the spotlight and throwing himself head first into an impressively energetic rendition of ‘Under The Tide’.
The performance ends on the highest point of all, with Chvrches’ breakthrough track, ‘The Mother We Share’. The joyous atmosphere in the Electric Arena reaches a peak with the song’s opening vocal samples. The show is one of the highlights of the festival.
Such is the playful nature of the three-piece band as they engage in light-hearted banter with their audience. Just one of the ingredients that gels them as a performance unit is their shared sense of ease on stage. They breeze through their setlist of haunting songs, displaying effortless vocal ranges.
Just one of the ingredients that gels them as a performance unit is their shared sense of ease on stage.
It’s obvious how much work Bray-based Wyvern Lingo have invested in this appearance, which is their biggest festival gig to date. In a unique live cover of alt-J’s ‘Left Hand Free’, they juxtapose a bluesy track from a folktronic indie rock band with interludes from ‘Don’t Let Go’, originally by 90s R&B group Envogue. This combination sounds bizarre in theory, but in Wyvern Lingo’s stylised adaptation, it seems like a no-brainer, which is a testament to their creativity. Another highlight is their rework of ‘Fairytale’. The rendition is almost unrecognisable when compared to the original version, taken from 2014’s The Widow Knows EP.
Having signed their first record deal, toured with Hozier and recorded an EP all in the last year, Wyvern Lingo are riding a fast-moving tide. It’s plain from this memorable performance that the tide will only continue to gather momentum in sweeping them onwards and upwards to even greater things.
The stage is awash with dazzlingly vibrant colour when Kevin Parker steps barefoot onto the stage, donning his trademark scarf. After a short instrumental introduction, all Parker has to say is “let’s go”, and everyone inside the packed-out Electric Arena is in the palm of his hand.
Without further ado, the band launches into ‘Let It Happen’, the synth-heavy first track and lead single of Currents. The painstakingly produced tracks are expertly carried from studio to stage, with enough special effect microphones, drum machines and other electronic instruments to flawlessly recreate the sound of the record.
The fans come to see the Perth band work psychedelic magic. They aren’t disappointed; Parker is an interactive and spirited frontman, even getting the security guards involved when he needs help tossing a huge yellow balloon atop the crowd.
The painstakingly produced tracks are expertly carried from studio to stage
The setlist is predictable, featuring much of the new record as well as the most successful tracks from its predecessors, Innerspeaker and Lonerism. The new tracks, especially those already released as singles, including ‘Eventually’ and ‘Cause I’m A Man’, are extremely well received. The crowd is united in a manically heartfelt yell-along of the band’s most well-known song, ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’, and things get even more rowdy when the colossal baseline of ‘Elephant’ kicks in.
The hypnotic visuals for the entire show are projected from the back of the arena, so that the band members, screen, instruments and gear are all part of a surreal haze of dancing colours. Looking back over the crowd, there are thousands of hands raised in worship-like appreciation under the enormous, technicoloured beams. The performance is one of the best at Electric Picnic, and those who saw it won’t be forgetting it any time soon.