“Thank you so much for being up for this,” Lauren Mayberry told her audience at 9:30 Club during her first-ever public solo performance on Monday.
Lauren compared the experience of her debut solo concert to a throwback indie rock night out when perhaps the audience didn’t fully know what they were going to hear at a show in the days before the widespread adoption of the internet by the music industry.
And yet, totally beguiled by the CHVRCHES frontwoman, the audience were along for the ride and thus for a set of really good new songs.
At the beginning of the 9:30 Club show on Sept. 4, Lauren strode to the middle of the stage and stood on a platform to elevate her 5-foot-zero frame above the audience. In all honestly, she was captivating from the start, so she could easily have began the first song of the night — the sultry “Bird” — from anywhere.
“I’m in a girl band — finally!” Lauren exclaimed at the end of the show. And she was supported by three female musicians, positioned on the stage behind her, for the performance. The band collaborated online for a while, but they only first met in person about two weeks prior to the show. They consisted of Maddie on drums, Heather on guitar, and Rynn on keyboards.
Before this show, Lauren released exactly one single — “Are You Awake?” — co-written with Tobias Jesso Jr. and Matthew Koma, who produced it, too. She made reference to it early in the program by way of suggesting the audience might know only one song in her burgeoning solo catalog. Thanks to a new deal for CHVRCHES earlier this year, Lauren is now signed to Island Records, and she announced that she was presenting about two-thirds of what she’s got available to perform at 9:30 Club, which suggests a full-length album is on the horizon.
Watch Lauren Mayberry perform “Are You Awake?” at The Dresden in Los Angeles via YouTube:=
Throughout her show, Lauren was chirpy and chatty, and the house was equally as mesmerized by her charming Scots accent as they were by her terrific solo songs — numbers that clearly indicate a breakout indie diva in the making. When she sang, Lauren delivered her words through her arms, which acted as extensions of her vocals as she swayed and parried throughout the set.
There were some great standout selections among new songs. “Change Shapes,” one of the most inventive songs of the evening and indeed one of the most clever songs in recent pop memory, was a dance tune with a message. Lauren sat on a small riser to sing the thoughtful “Mantra.” “Crocodile Tears” was a buoyant electropop seducer. In between them, Lauren performed “Under the Knife,” one of two “depressing slow songs” of the evening, she said. “The rest of them have a bit of pep!”
Toward the end of the set, Lauren covered Madonna’s “Like a Prayer.” In introducing it, she thanked the audience in the nearly sold-out 9:30 Club for turning out largely on faith, as they knew maybe only piano ballad “Are You Awake?,” which was only released on Sept. 1. To make it worthwhile, Lauren said the band learned something that everyone was sure to know, and they launched into the famous Madonna tune. Lauren’s signature soprano was in truly delightful form for the selection.
Lauren ended the set with “Sorry Etc.,” a song full of “big filthy synth,” as she said, and it was a chunky banger indeed! It also was maybe the closest thing to a CHVRCHES song all night, although it certainly had a bit more of an R&B flavor than you might expect.
3. Change Shapes
5. Under the Knife
6. Crocodile Tears
7. Like a Prayer (Madonna cover)
8. Are You Awake?
9. Sorry, Etc.
Through the next week, Lauren Mayberry opens for Death Cab for Cutie as they embark on a stadium tour. Lauren remained in DC last night to open for Death Cab for Cutie at The Anthem, and the does it again tonight, Sept. 6. Arrive early to catch Lauren’s solo act before Death Cab if you already have tickets to the sold-out show!
Here are some photos of Lauren Mayberry performing at 9:30 Club on Sept. 4, 2023. All pictures by Mickey McCarter.