White Lies Gift True Love To San Francisco, CA 2-14-17

Begun as a movement at the dawn of the 1980s, England’s New Romanticism scene was filled with exciting music. Labeled Post-Punk or New Wave, acts such as Joy Division, Visage, and Spandau Ballet, among others, laid the groundwork for a generation. Fast-forward three decades and the echoes of the past resonate again with bands such as White Lies.

Hailing from London, England, White Lies’ story began following the dissolve of their previous band, Fear of Flying. Comprised of core members Harry McVeigh (lead vocals, guitar), Charles Cave (bass guitar and backing vocals), and Jack Lawrence-Brown (drums), over the past decade, White Lies has made waves across Europe with a style described as dark, yet uplifting. With many media outlets likening them to bands such as Editors, Interpol, the aforementioned Joy Division, and The Killers, White Lies wear their influences on their sleeves, but provide a style all their own.

With whispers of a new album traveling through 2015, White Lies’ fourth studio album, Friends, finally surfaced in October 2016. A stylistic shift from previous works, the album was recorded at Bryan Ferry’s private studio in London’s Olympia and self-produced by the band. Met with positive to mixed reviews, in the eyes of an artist, any reaction is a good reaction, and now White Lies take the music on the road with an exciting headlining North American tour in early 2017. 

Begun on February 1st, with stops in major cities including NYC, it all came to a close out in Los Angeles on the 15th. A short but sweet run, perhaps one of the most exciting dates of all fell on February 14th. Not just the average Tuesday evening, it was Valentine’s Day and what better way to spend the evening for lovers than San Francisco’s music club The Chapel with White Lies? A structure which is actually a remodeled church turned into a music venue, White Lies, along with Vowws, were ready to share some love with a sold out crowd. 

Packed with an eclectic mix of people, ranging in age and background, everyone gathered in tightly, awaiting Vowws to begin their set. Originally an Aussie duo, but now calling Los Angeles, California home, Vowws is equal parts Punk and Electronica. These night creatures are not as heavy as, say, Godflesh or Pain, but Matt and Rizz still spend some time wandering the dark shadows, musically speaking. Those compelling to know more, their BandCamp page likens the pair to Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, and ’80s icon, Gary Numan.

Ingenious and with huge crossover potential, Vowws are fresh off several gigs with 3Teeth, and have also recently seen Jimmy Urine remix their 2015 track “Holy Youth.” Their 2015 debut album, The Great Sun, features cameos from the previously mentioned Gary Numan, Thor Harris (SWANS), and Beki Aldridge (The Mavis’s). 

Taking the stage, while their music leaned towards the melancholic, it had moments of Synthpop (up) beats, as well. Dressed in all black and accentuated by dramatic, red stage-lighting, Matt and Rizz let the macabre flow for their entire set. The pair even took a moment to wish the crowd a happy Valentine’s Day, but followed it up with a raised middle finger salute to the Hallmark holiday.

Sonically, their approximately thirty-minute set was full of highlights from The Great Sun, including namesake “The Great Sun,” “Holy Youth,” “Losing Myself In You” (minus Gary Numan, of course), and “Councillor.” Off their Vowws EP, they performed “I Think I Remember” to mix it up. Overall, their music was danceable and the entire audience moved along while many sang along as well. Infectious and dark, the duo appeared personable and bantered with the crowd between songs. As their set came to a close, Vowws took a moment to thank White Lies for inviting them to share the stage. All this said, Vowws’ music demands repeat listening sessions, and it is sure to become a regular part of many’s soundtracks. 

After a short change-over, White Lies would take to the stage, bringing with them musical magic and love. With McVeigh, Cave, and Lawrence-Brown (drums), they emerged as a five-piece with touring musicians Tommy Bowen and Rob Lee.

Tonight, White Lies were headlining, and they would work through a lengthy, fun set that included tracks from all four of their studio albums. From the second they set foot on stage, these Brits had the audience eating out of the palms of their hands. Throughout their set, the crowd sang-along, danced, and felt the music with passion. For their part, White Lies performed with equal joy as well as passion, and it became clear to all that these men truly love what they do.

Their performance was tight and included their hits plus much more. From their most recent album, they dished out a plethora of goodies including “Take It Out On Me,” “Hold Back Your Love,” “Is My Love Enough?,” “Don’t Want to Feel It All,” “Come On,” and crowd-favorite “Morning In L.A.” Not to be outlooked, some of the threesome’s earliest work was heavily represented in the set, including “Death,” “To Lose My Life,” “The Price of Love,” “Farewell To The Fairground,” “Unfinished Business,” “From the Stars,” and “A Place To Hide” off their 2009 debut. Sophomore album Ritual provided only “Bigger Than Us,” while their third release, Big TV, provided three tracks: “There Goes Our Love Again,” “Getting Even,” and album namesake, “Big TV.”

Between songs, McVeigh spoke with the audience openly, coming across very comfortable and loose. He joked that he had recently moved to San Francisco, which caused the audience to go predictably wild. As the time came for what could have been the band’s encore, there was no pause, they simply played right through to the end of their set. Then, after performing “Bigger Than Us,” White Lies left the stage and bid a fond farewell to their fans. 

Fun, energetic, and enjoyable, the show seemed to sate the audience and band equally. On this lovely evening, many in attendance had brought dates, while others simply celebrated being single. No matter their status, all in attendance were clearly delighted to see White Lies perform their music live in-the-flesh. With the North American tour concluded, White Lies return home to the United Kingdom for more shows, Struck by their arrow on Valentine’s Day, the sold out crowd, as well as the rest of the USA, hope the band is back this side of the Atlantic sooner rather than later.  

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