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Review: Chvrches at South Side Ballroom

Posted 2:35pm on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013

The haze was so thick you could almost reach out and grab it.

The South Side Ballroom was suffused with smoke Saturday night, dense and acrid, filling the room before Scottish synth-pop trio Chvrches took the stage.

It soon became clear why the air wasn’t — Chvrches, performing in Dallas for the second time in less than a year, packed a formidable light show.

Strobing, pulsing, glittering and glowing, the band’s surprisingly muscular yet airy songs were augmented by a dazzling display, making an already spacious room feel even moreso.

Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook and Martin Doherty are touring behind their debut LP, The Bones of What You Believe, and used said record for the bulk of their 65-minute set Saturday.

Mayberry’s sprightly, fulsome vocals cut through the samplers, synthesizers and bass as easily as light cuts through fog — whether on Recover, Lies or the main set-ending The Mother We Share, hers is a pleasantly intense instrument.

What’s most astonishing about the young band — formed just two years ago, and just two months removed from the release of its first record — is the degree of confidence displayed on stage. Last time through town, Chvrches (pronounced “churches,” despite the stylized spelling) sold out the Granada Theater, a gig Mayberry reminsced about as ending with a LCD Soundsystem “dance party.”

The leap to an already bigger venue not six months later suggests Chvrches is on the fast track to stardom, and the success of The Mother We Share, which is gaining traction on radio, may well augur a higher profile 2014.

It’s rare to encounter an act already so comfortable on larger stages, despite relatively little mainstream awareness. The enthused crowd sang along to the better-known tracks, cheered loudly and small dance parties erupted throughout the venue.

Like the bright lights behind them, Chvrches is an illuminating reminder that every so often, buzz bands can live up to — and exceed — the hype.

Preston Jones, 817-390-7713 Twitter: @prestonjones

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