Cold rain and gray skies cast a gloomy hue over Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood on Oct. 22. But inside the Riviera Theatre (4746 N. Racine Ave.), things were much more exciting.
The Massachusetts-based band PVRIS, fronted by vocalist Lynn Gunn, performed a rousing concert at the Riviera to close out their 2017 North American tour. PVRIS was joined by Detroit artist Flint Eastwood and Canadian artist Lights, making the concert double as a spectacular celebration of women in the alternative music scene and a high-energy rock show.
Eastwood took the stage first to warm up the audience, who had just come inside from the dismal weather. Her voice was loud and powerful, mixing well with the electronic rock music her band played. Lights was a perfect follow-up act — her style of music sounded like a unique blend of Ellie Goulding and Paramore’s Hayley Williams. Both artists inspired fist pumps, jumps and some head-banging from the audience.
Soon after Lights’ louder and more emotional set, PVRIS arrived to excited screams and applause. The band’s stage setup was minimalistic and colorless to echo its black-and-white music videos. Gunn, accompanied by Alex Babinski on keyboard, Justin Nace on drums and Brian MacDonald on bass, started the set with “Heaven,” the first single from the band’s sophomore album, released Aug. 25, “All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell.”
Despite a few technical difficulties with audio equipment, Gunn’s powerful voice filled the intimate venue with ease, reminding the audience why she won Best Vocalist at the 2017 Alternative Press Music Awards. PVRIS played popular songs from its debut album, “White Noise” (2014), and several from the latest release, including the singles “Anyone Else,” “Winter” and “What’s Wrong.” The new songs got just as much love as the older ones, but the track that received the most enthusiastic response was “My House” off of “White Noise.” The defiant lyrics and Gunn’s gritty, boisterous vocals caused the walls of the Riviera to shake with released emotions as the audience screamed the lyrics back at her.
Numerous rainbow pride flags were displayed onstage during PVRIS’s set in an effort to make the show also feel like a safe space for the LGBTQ+ fans in attendance. Gunn, who has been open about her lesbian identity for years and often voices her opinion on gay rights issues in interviews and on Twitter, congratulated a same-sex couple who got engaged in the audience during the show. The crowd’s cheers and applause were deafening after the announcement, a testament to the accepting atmosphere PVRIS’ music creates.
Since this was the last show of their North American tour, PVRIS thanked its Chicago fans numerous times throughout the set. The closing song, “No Mercy,” was full of crowd surfing and celebratory cheers, and Gunn even ventured into the audience with the help of a security guard for the final chorus. She shook hands with several fans and accepted gifts as they were thrown onstage, including a letter and a bra.
PVRIS is a fast-growing band in the alternative music scene, and its live shows prove why. The members of the band work together seamlessly and Gunn’s charming personality and distinctive voice makes the band difficult to dislike.
“All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell” is available for purchase and streaming on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify.