PVRIS bring a beautifully haunting performance to New Jersey
PVRIS North American Tour Part 2
In 2013 Lowell, Massachusetts alt-rock trio PVRIS released their debut EP. Little did the group know, consisting of vocalist/guitarist Lynn Gunn, guitar/keys Alex Babinski and bassist/keyboards Brian MacDonald, they were about to be on a wild ride. They built their reputation as a live act on a string of dates with Vans Warped Tour, and in the Fall following they announced their signing to Rise Records. The band would head into the studio in 2014 to record their breakthrough album White Noise which was released in November 2014. The band found themselves spending a year touring heavily before announcing their first headlining tour.
Fast forward to 2017 and PVRIS find themselves hitting the road with Muse and 30 Seconds to Mars just before releasing their sophomore record All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell. The band drew inspiration from their experiences over the three years since the release of their debut. The band’s frontwoman Lynn Gunn has spoken openly about her struggles with anxiety and how touring so actively has caused her to set her personal issues aside. Gunn’s suppressed emotions during that time became the foundation for All We Need of Heaven, All We Need of Hell. Lyrics for songs like “What’s Wrong” are admissions that things were not ok as Gunn sings “Don’t need a metaphor for you to know I’m miserable.”
The band’s honesty towards their emotions and anxiety speaks volumes that even those living their dream can suffer from fragile mental health, and it’s that honesty that has won fans over and over again. Lynn Gunn’s relatable lyrics bring comfort to a generation living through tough times.
The band have always been advocates for being yourself and provoking acceptance towards one another. As of late, particularly since Donald Trump has taken office, PVRIS have been outspoken in their support for the LGBTQ Community. Gunn who is openly out herself, came out to her parent’s when she was 18 years old via a letter she left before leaving for her first tour. The band has even went a step further working with organizations like The Ally Coalition by donating proceeds from their tour to help the agenda of the entertainment industry speaking up for equality.
After a year or two of following the band, I was beyond excited when they announced the second round of their North American tour featuring opening acts Flint Eastwood (who also joined the band on their 2017 fall tour) and newcomers Cherry Pools. After all I’ve read and as I really took the time to digest the band’s music I found myself needing to catch a live show.
I headed out to Starland Ballroom in New Jersey and battled, like many others, through a winter storm to get there, but as they say: the show must go on. Unfortunately for me due the weather I missed openers Cherry Pools and caught only the last 2 songs of Flint Eastwood, who from what I can tell was receiving a ton of love from the packed NJ crowd. I was really excited for PVRIS’s live show because the new album is incredible and the band’s beautifully moving imagery; whether it be photo’s by the bands photographer Matty Vogel or through their unforgettable music videos, Gunn and company are artist and they know how to entertain.
As the clock hit 10pm it was time for PVRIS to take the stage. The setup was dark, and the back of the stage was lined with street lamps letting off subtle amber looking light and blinking in a strobe fashion. On the right and left of the stage were Alex Babinski and Brian MacDonald’s keyboards, as well as Gunn’s piano in the center. To the back of the stage were two drum set’s one on each side. The stage screen rose up and to loud cheers the band took the stage with frontwoman Lynn Gunn heading right to her piano for the set’s opening song “Heaven” with lighting coming from street lamps at the back of the stage. Gunn would then get up and walk to the mic stand set up at the center of the stage to continue the song. The second song of the night “Mirrors” would find the singer, dressed with a long black coat, wondering the stage and singing to the fans against the rail.
On “St. Patrick” Gunn grabbed her guitar and played along with her bandmates. The band has a great way of portraying their mood through the shows visuals. The lighting and aesthetic truly bring the songs to life, creating an atmosphere that’s beautiful with little components of the show making a big impression. The back wall of street lamps can now be seen with walls of leaves and blue-ish white light poles on the side of the stage bounce off of the band creating an industrial type feeling to accompany the bands electronic elements.
PVRIS continued with “Smoke” in which a fan threw a pride flag on stage. This act is not uncommon at a PVRIS show, and more times than not, Gunn puts the rainbow flag on her mic stand and remains there throughout the band’s performance.
Songs “Half” and “Holy” followed and midway through the show Gunn tells fans “We are so thankful for all of you braving this weather and coming out to spend the night with us. I’m gonna say it now so I don’t forget, please get home safe and if you’re too afraid to drive… don’t!!! Just wait till the storm calms down.” I personally thought it was amazing of the band to acknowledge what I guess was the potential risk to see the show. They then went on to play the song “Same Soul” with Gunn once again at the piano, and fan favorite and one of the album’s singles “What’s Wrong.”
The shows setlist also consisted of “Winter,” “Anyone Else,” and the encore for the night “No Mercy,” in which fans sing along to the lyrics “Show me no mercy and let it rain.” The set from PVRIS clocked in around 75 minutes and the show was everything I hoped it would be. I love everything about this band live and they make it seem like they’ve been doing it their whole lives. If Lynn Gunn and company are nervous for the show it certainly doesn’t show during the band’s performance as they own the stage. The stage show fits the bands aesthetic and music perfectly and certainly kept me transfixed throughout.
This was my first but certainly not last time seeing PVRIS, the show definitely made me a fan of the band and I highly recommend catching a show if it’s coming to your area! The tour rolls across the country before it pauses in March, the band will be playing an intimate show at The Roxy in Los Angeles, CA and also Coachella on April 13th. PVRISwill then continue their tour on April 14th beginning in Santa Cruz, CA and hitting a ton of cities they haven’t played in a while including Canada before it wraps up May 4th. Checkout all of the bands currently scheduled dates for 2018 below and get your tickets HERE!!!