PVRIS is the alternative rock band you might not know about that you should definitely know about, after all they have already toured with MUSE, 30 Seconds To Mars, Halsey, Fall Out Boy, Bring Me The Horizon and Paramore. The Massachusetts-based act played to a thunderous crowd last night on their sold-out final tour stop at the Fonda Theatre, a spot they played back in 2016 and will likely never play again (cause they will simply be too big). Lead singer/guitarist Lynn Gunn and bass guitarist/keyboardist Brian MacDonald, along with tour drummer Denny Agosto literally made the place shake, but more on that later.
Royal and the Serpent, the stage name of Ryan Santiago, an electropop act from New Jersey now based in Los Angeles opened the night. Sporting a cheerleader outfit all bloodied like she came back from the dead, Royal looked like a cross between Andrew W.K. and the cheerleader from the series Heroes. Her big song “Overwhelmed” was a moment, earlier shouting at the crowd, “I’ve wanted to play here my whole fucking life” and later saying “I could die right here and be happy”. She was joined by members of Beauty School Dropout for a song and on another by female singer Phem. There was thrashing and noise and overall fun on the stage for crowd favorites “GO FUCK YOURSELF.” and “phuck u.” The loud and crazy moments are entertaining like when Ryan grabbed her pop poms cause you know, fuck yeah she has ’em, but her voice has a unique quality that sits well with ballads too, like on the aforementioned single as well as another song called “Better” about mental health.
Headliners PVRIS hit high gear right away with apocalyptic noises and then immediately jumped into “Monster”, a totally insane and high-energy opening with Lynn and the guys silhouetted in the blazing strobe lights. “Dead Weight” signaled that rock concerts were suddenly back, with hands up from the crowd and everyone singing along under circles of flashing lights.
You could barely catch your breath as the momentum continued for the danceable “St. Patrick”, where the wild clapping ensued with the audience jumping as Lynn owned the guitar, something she embodies completely during a performance. The infectious, brooding “Gimme A Minute” had all the right high notes, the perfect blend of instrumentation and electronic elements and it was for sure a highlight of the night.
A member of the crowd threw a phone up on the stage at Lynn, perhaps hoping to get a photo of the lead singer of Lynn on their phone. Lynn stopped the show and decided to look through while the crowd chanted “call her mom!” and Lynn asked, is it “Mom” or Momma Bear”?
Lynn was able to catch her breath slightly on “Stay Gold” with ballad-like opening moments and a shimmering guitar quickly picking up with tempo and a groove, her voice really shining on this pop song. One thing about PVRIS is they are fearless when it comes to genre and sound and in addition to rock and adopting a lot of electronic, Lynn has infused some R&B moments in her voice and hip-hop beats into the band’s music, the case for “What’s Wrong” as the fans sang along.
More unearthly sounds continued for a twenty-second break and then a chord, “Half” was loud and lively wrapping with a huge guitar solo and Lynn joining her bass player Brian MacDonald. Lynn addressed the crowd referring back to their 2016 show at The Fonda and announced a new song asking for phones up on “If I Don’t Wake Up Tomorrow”, which she said is about friends being there for you. The rock hybrid has a hip-hop beat, and a “hey-ay, hey-ay” moment perfect for call-and-response from fans.
Another big one was “Use Me” with Lynn’s spectacular vocal and the guitars matching the song’s intensity. The emotional punch of “Old Wounds” created another highlight of the evening, with the song’s highs and lows, and shift in dynamics – it’s the song that makes you feel everything whether you want to or not as Lynn sings “I think I could love you”.
The rhythmic “Walk Alone” had beautiful instrumentation contrasting heavy rock moments, while blending a harp sound and big high notes from Gunn. The crowd was jumping again for the rousing “Death Of Me”, a true representation of how PVRIS mesh different elements of dance, pop, rock and soul.
A two-minute pause took place awaiting an encore of three songs, with the audience stomping the floor, earthquake-style. A morphed voice of a demon came on the soundsystem looking for the biggest PVRIS fan and said the band would only return if the audience could learn the words to the next song: “my my my way”. The demon said, “Capiche? Dost thou comprehend?” After two audience attempts the demon exclaimed “Honestly, that sucked. Alright you chickens, get your dancing pants on”.
Lynn Gunn tossed the open blouse from the main set and stood toned in her crop top for the very 90s-R&B-inspired “My Way” with a whole lot of guitar and rockin’ vocals. “This is our last show of this tour and it’s been an absolute pleasure to end it with you guys,” shared Gunn. Pop/rock anthem “You & I” was another big moment, with the crowd singing especially on the catchy “oh-ohs” and finally the danceable “Hallucinations” capped the night with Gunn hitting all her high notes and the crowd clapping along in unison.
For a petite frontwoman, Lynn Gunn comes armed ready for a fight on stage, giving it her all. She’s rather sweet to her fans during the show, a contrast to the mystery she portrays as a persona in music videos and on social media. You simply cannot describe her, she’s a force and someone to experience live, making each song count, mystery and all.
Words by Michael Menachem