White Lies at The Chapel, San Francisco

This Valentine’s Day,  there was a West London post-punk band White Lies at The Chapel in the Mission District of San Francisco. Couples and squads of singles head-bobbed at the sold out show packing bodies next to bodies to the point that there wasn’t much room to move flexibly through the sea of people. A large silver disco ball hung in the center of The Chapel’s arch as the lights of the mirrors shined on the wooden boards.

The band opened the cheering crowd with “Take It Out on Me” as red and blue lights glimmered on each of the members’ faces. Harry McVeigh, lead vocalist and guitarist, wore black and white shoes and rocked the pedals as he sung “I’m in love with the feeling / Oh take it out on me.” Yelling “San Francisco! How’s it going?! Happy Valentine’s Day!,” the energetic crowd, especially the women, screamed excitedly while clapping their hands to the beat of the song. Who wouldn’t let out a passionate scream? After all, McVeigh’s sweet English creme voice is the main attribute to White Lies.

Starting off a count down with his drumsticks in the air, Jack Lawrence-Brown was the leader of transitioning songs throughout the show. Playing songs from their 2016 album Friends, White Lies controlled the atmosphere of The Chapel to create a fun, dance-infused party. As Charles Cave strummed his bass effortlessly under pink fluorescent lights the band’s strong musical kinship threw the crowd into a time machine with influences of Joy Division and Interpol.

Singing lyrics from “There Goes Our Love Again” from their 2013 album Big TV, McVeigh asked the crowd to clap as he smiled. He then turned around to play the chorus of “I didn’t go far / I didn’t go far and I came home” and the lights began to flicker obsessively like a strobe light, focusing the attention on each band member. Back to the bridge of the song, the lights stopped flickering and slowly went from no lights until the chorus looped around. No one cared that the ex-chapel was stuffy because they adored the beautifully morbid pop music that is White Lies.

From the balcony, two screens showcased the focus on McVeigh leaving his other band members out of the picture. With his eyes closed, he channeled a Paul Banks / Ian Curtis [Ed. Note: Lead singers of Interpol and Joy Division, respectively, but you should know that!] combination with whatever energy he had left after singing five or more songs back to back. When he set a serious gaze into the crowd, it seemed that the crowd felt a mixture of happiness and a little bit of sadness while witnessing such a passionate performance.

Not phased that his damp sweaty hair was dangling on his forehead, he turned away from the crowd. They began to cheer more loudly than before to focus on his solo. Red and pink lights signifying Valentine’s Day flashed on his face as he screamed into the microphone, “I know I have to leave / But it hurts so much / Just knowing that my love / Might never be enough.” Throwing back to the era of new age pop, White Lies brought San Francisco all the love they needed on the most romantic day of the year.

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