I’ve been a huge fan of PVRIS for a few years now and have seen them quickly gain exposure and popularity. I was lucky enough to get to see them at Warped Tour last summer and when they opened for Pierce the Veil in early 2015, but once they went on tour with Fall Out Boy, I knew my time to see them headline a small venue was quickly running out. They announced a summer tour a few mths ago and OF COURSE Pittsburgh wasn’t on it. The closest date was in Cincinnati and it was festival which just isn’t what I wanted.
But then last month, they added a last minute Pittsburgh date! It was billed as one of the Altar Bar’s farewell shows, and I literally bought my ticket the exact moment they went on sale, while Henry and I were en route to Maryland for The Cure. I knew it would sell out and I wasn’t taking any chances. You gotta know when to jump on things.
Plus, I’m tightly-wound.
Fast forward to a few days before the show. Drusky Entertainment updated the Facebook event to say that the show had been moved to the Rex Theater due to “structural issues” with the Altar Bar. Apparently, the new owners of the Altar Bar (who I think are turning it back into a church if the rumors I heard are correct) must have done an inspection and basically, the Altar Bar was declared unsafe for hosting concerts so that’s great to hear. So instead of being able to have their final “goodbye” shows, they had to close their doors two weeks sooner than anticipated.
But the problem with moving to the Rex is that its capacity limit is lower than the Altar Bar, and this was a sold-out show. People started flipping out on Facebook, wondering if there were going to be refunds, and if so, how would that be decided, etc. It was quickly confirmed by Drusky that emails would be sent and this location change would really only affect the last 70 people who bought their tickets.
So I was safe.
Turns out though, it would have been better to have been a JOHNNY COME LATELY (I’m my second grade teacher Mrs. Hall now) because the last 70 people got a special pre-show ACOUSTIC PERFMORMANCE by PVRIS and a meet and greet?! I was so pissed and poor Henry (lol) had to hear me whine about it for like three days straight.
I kept throwing around the word “injustice.” BECAUSE IT WAS.
Whatever, I was happy that the show wasn’t entirely canceled and that my ticket was still good and that, most of all, I would get to hear Lynn Gunn’s pretty voice in person again, because she one of the top dogs on my very short list of girl singers.
Father Henry dropped me off at the Rex last Sunday night after doors opened because I didn’t want to wait in line with all the giggling bi-curious girls who call Lynn their wife. I got in and made it past the miserable bouncer and then went straight to the bar to get a cider because NERVES. No matter how many shows I go to alone, it’s always the “Walking In” part that gets my stomach in knots. But then once I establish a dark corner to slip into, I’m fine.
I took my cider up to the balcony because I knew it was going to get too crowded for me to see downstairs. The balcony is very small, standing room only, but I found an opening at the far end next to some dad who kind of looked like NEWMAN.
Newman immediately started talking to me and I was just like, “Not on this day, buddy.” He was there with his daughter and niece and unhappy about it. I muttered something about PVRIS putting on a good show, so it shouldn’t be too miserable of a night for him. Then I buried my face in my phone so he would stop. Just stop.
The opening bands were both local. The first was Emerson Jay and WHAT A STAGE PRESENCE. It’s very rare that an opening band gets a crowd as excited as Emerson Jay did, but I was fucking feeling it. A+, good packaging, would see again.
When they ended, Newman asked me if I would hold his spot because his daughter was down below summoning him, presumably for money to buy shirts because that would be the only reason I would be summoning Henry at a show. Literally as soon as he walked away, a girl slipped right into his spot. I said something in a noncommittal tone about how I was supposed to be saving that spot for someone, so her friend was all, “Well, there’s room for him when he comes back, and I’ll just stand behind her….” but then I mumbled something about how I didn’t even know the guy anyway, so the friend was all, “OH WELL IN THAT CASE FUCK THAT GUY” and she squeezed herself right in between me and the other girl, so shit got real cozy.
Then she kept talking to me, and it was OK — she wasn’t overly annoying or anything — but how long were we really going to discuss the Do’s and Don’ts of holding someone’s spot at a show? Finally, Nevada Color came on and she shut up. Nevada Color was fun, but not as good as Emerson Jay, except for the very end, when Emerson Jay came back out and joined them for a party on the stage and everyone was like FUCK YEAH and how could you not be loving life at that moment?!
I felt proud of our local scene. The only thing that could have made the night, would have been if Balloon Ride Fantasy was also there! (This was around the time I realized that the girls next to me were a couple, NOT THAT I WAS JUDGING, but it was something I NOTICED, which is important to the story.)
At some point, I spotted Newman in my periphery, standing toward the back of the balcony and I felt a slight pang of guilt for not trying harder to hold his spot, but as Sam and I joked, “MOVE YOUR FEET LOSE YOUR SEAT.”
After their set, the girl next to me (I inadvertently found out her name was Sam later on in the night) went down to the merch area and was chatting up the singer of Nevada Color for A GOOD WHILE, and me and the other girl were laughing about it because you could tell this chick was the type of girl who could talk her way into and out of anything. “She better get his number,” the other girl said, and I was like, “Oh, maybe they’re not girlfriends then…” But then Sam came back up, gave both of us free Nevada Color stickers, and when her girlfriend asked what they were talking about, Sam said, “How to meet PVRIS. But I don’t know that I can trust you with that intel.” It seemed clear to me that she was joking, but this somehow set off the other girl and before I knew it, they were lowkey bickering, so I just turned my attention elsewhere because awkward and leave me out of it.
But then when the girlfriend went to the bathroom, Sam turned to me and said, “WHY DO I HAVE TO LIKE GIRLS?!” I was like, “Um…” because honestly, I’m terrible in these situations and ain’t nobody should be asking me of all people GIRL ADVICE because I’m a fucking disaster in that field.
“I love her to death but right now I want to snap her neck and throw her off the balcony,” and I could imagine that happening because Sam had a very athletic build to her and the other girl just looked weak. I asked very by-the-book questions, like “How long have you been together?? to which she replied, “Not long enough, but then too long, you know?”
No. No, I don’t. A month? Four years? Help me know the answer.
Apparently, this girl is super jealous. Which explains why she made the “I hope she gets his number” comment — I probably just realized the bitter tone at the time. Sam told me that she recently went out for beers with her best guy friend who had recently broken up with his girlfriend, and apparently this did not go over well with Sam’s girlfriend who naturally accused her of cheating.
“And then there’s the age difference, I think that has a lot to do with it. Like, I’m 26 and she’s only 22. She’s very immature.”
I just nodded, imagining Henry talking to some random person about our age difference. “I’m 51 and she’s only 37. She’s very immature.”
PLUS IT’S LONG DISTANCE, THEY LIVE AN HOUR AWAY FROM EACH OTHER GOD HELP THEM.
The girlfriend came back from the bathroom and Sam continued to talk to me about her while she was standing right there and I was thinking to myself, “Am I going to end up being the Third Party in this poorly-scripted divorce court drama?” But then PVRIS saved the day by finally coming out on stage and I was like, “Here guys! Just enjoy the show! Break up later, on the drive back to Ohio.”
Because they’re from Ohio. I learned that at some point too when I was trying to just keep to myself in my corner, crying internally because socialization is just too much for me. THIS IS WHY I GO TO SHOWS ALONE!
But PVRIS though. My lord. They sounded better than ever and just being in the presence of Lynn Gunn’s radiant beauty filled me with joy.
She did not have the same effect on Sam, who had her head in her arms and was sobbing.
Lesbians breaking up during PVRIS — I can’t even imagine how soul-crushing this was for them, having these emotionally-wrecking conversations while Lynn sings the songs she wrote about her past girlfriends.
The first time we ever saw them, Henry made some judgey comment about they “were OK but she needs to work on her singing” and I was just like, “Being in the SERVICE must have screwed with your hearing because she is a fucking exotic siren calling me toward her lesbi-land, so fuck you WHITE HETERO-MAN.”
And then she busted out with “Only Love” from an acoustic EP they did pre-White Noise and I didn’t know they ever performed any of those songs so I was pleasantly surprised and I very rarely am That Person who whips out her phone and records a song in its entirety, but this was an exception. That song makes me weak and as soon as I’m done writing this, I’m going to put on that record and cry.
What I also love about this band is that while they appear to be all bleak and synthy, they are so fucking funny. I went through a phase two years ago where I made Henry watch every one of their interviews on YouTube with me and even he was KIND OF LAUGHING. They are fucking adorable people and I’m so happy to see that their beautiful music is being recognized and getting them spots at Lollapalooza, even.
The other thing I love about PVRIS is that Lynn has an extensive background in art and design, which shows in the perfectly curated series of music videos that were made for EVERY SONG on their debut LP. And perhaps you’ve seen Chooch wearing that “For Fox Sake” Emarosa tank? Well, Lynn designed that for Emarosa — THEY’RE FRIENDS.
Of course they’re friends. The best bands stick together.
I was acutely aware of Sam threatening to “just leave” numerous times during their set, and now her girlfriend had reversed roles and became the level-headed one who tried to calm her down. In the end, Sam ended up staying. With all that domestic disputing happening next to me all night, it was almost as intimate as the acoustic set I missed out on. I felted invested at that point, so I tapped her on the arm and wished her luck with everything,
She said, “And sorry again about bumping into you all night. My elbows are so pointy!” And then we laughed and it was kind of like a Mentos commercial.
And on my way out, some young guy touched my arm and usually I would hiss DON’T TOUCH ME, but he wanted to tell me that he liked my shirt.
It was an EMAROSA shirt. What could have been a chaotic cluster of a night with a bunch of angry fans thanks to a last minute venue change ended up being the best night ever.