Chvrches Mod Club, Toronto, ON, March 20

Chvrches Mod Club, Toronto, ON, March 20
Photo: Lucia Graca
Coming hot on the heels off of a hotly tipped performance at SXSW, Chvrches' CMW appearance was arguably the must-see gig of the fest. Multi-instrumentalists Iain Cook and Martin Doherty took the stage to the pounding beats of "Lies" followed closely by the Glaswegians' diminutive singer Lauren Mayberry.

Her size and genuine unassuming demeanour made it easy to see how so many have referred to her (and the band in general) as "cute," without meaning it as an insult. Yet as a stage presence, she's a magnet; her bandmates were doing all the thrashing, but all eyes were on Mayberry for the duration of their 45-minute Canadian debut.

The packed crowd bobbed heads to tracks from their as-yet-unreleased debut EP and forthcoming LP, which the group promised would be out in September. The handful of tracks like "Recover" and "The Mother We Share" received the lion's share of the applause but unreleased cuts like "If We Sink" with the line "I'll be a thorn in your side until you die" went over well.

But there were weaker moments — several tracks simply sound like Chvrches on autopilot, with no hook or sonic flourish to distinguish one from another. And Doherty's turn at the mic gave the crowd a glimpse at what the band might have sounded like prior to their recruitment of Mayberry; they are much better off with her.

After closing with the aforementioned "The Mother We Share," they returned for a brief encore of Prince's "I Would Die 4 U." It's rare to see a band deliver such a confident and consistent performance, let alone one with so little officially released material. Chvrches are quickly proving themselves to be the exception to that and many other rules.