|by Aron Harris|
PVRIS, a three-piece unit originally from Lowell, Massachusetts, are touring the US and Canada in support of their recently-released sophomore album, All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell. At Detroit’s Royal Oak Theatre for a sold out show on October 20th, they were joined by Canadian indie-pop queen, Lights and Detroit native, Flint Eastwood opening the bill.
The audience, which was lined up down the street and around the block before doors even opened, was hungry for it. Flint Eastwood kicked the crowd into high-gear from the start, even going as far as to call out individuals in the audience for not dancing quite hard enough. Lights, who clearly had a sizeable crowd there just supporting her, played a long set for an opening act, stunning the crowd with her powerful vocals on both new tracks from her 5th studio album, Skin and Earth and throwbacks, like 2009’s Last Thing on Your Mind.
The crowd was buzzing throughout, but at the end of the night, they were clearly there to watch PVRIS frontwoman Lynn Gunn and her bandmates Alex Babinski and Brian MacDonald bring the house down. Spots and projections of white light contrasted beautifully with PVRIS’ all-black stage aesthetic, reflecting how Lynn’s soulful voice and poetic lyrics contrast with the band’s loud, guitar-driven sound. Hits like My House and Anyone Else had the entire audience singing along, though there wasn't a single moment where Lynn could hold her mic toward the crowd and not hear the lyrics chorused back in perfect unison. One memorable moment involved a large rainbow flag being thrown onto the stage. True to the band’s passion for creating a safe space for LGBT youth at PVRIS shows, Lynn (an out and outspoken LGBT performer) unironically draped the flag over her mic stand turning it into a rainbow centrepiece for the remainder of the set, a burst of colour to remind the crowd they were safe to be themselves there. Other highlights included Lynn performing a stripped-down version of Separate, accompanying herself on the piano and later, jumping up to wail on the drums, showing her talent as a multi-instrumentalist. The over-enthusiastic crowd was jumping, screaming, and even briefly moshing through the set. When the show was over, it was clear they would have loved another hour or two.
With just two dates left on this tour, the chance to catch PVRIS is almost over, but judging from the response to their music from this Detroit crowd, I doubt the band will be slowing down any time soon.
Words and photos by Sabrina Direnzo