Boston was once synonymous with rock music, names like Aerosmith, The Cars, Boston, Pixies, were popular enough on an international level Boston felt like a hub for rock. Times change though, and the business changes, and these days well known Boston’s rock bands are mostly contained to legends of yesterday. That is, before Lowell, MA based alternative rock band PVRIS entered the scene. The three piece doesn’t quite have enough of a relationship with Boston to play 3 to 5 sold out shows at the Lansdowne St. venue, but on Thursday night there was no mistaking it, House of Blues belonged to them. PVRIS are out on tour in support of their second studio album,"All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell"By door time at 6:30 the line to get in stretched all the way up Lansdowne. St to the nearby David Ortiz Bridge. There was an unmistakable big show feeling around the neighborhood. Adding to that big show atmosphere was the fact that PVRIS were filming the show for a documentary to be released in the future, so the inside of the venues felt just a little bit like a movie set.
Bombastic opener Flint Eastwood took the stage just before 7:30, giving the night a boisterous start with 30-minute set of alt-pop songs delivered with quite a bit of panache. The crowd definitely responded, watching, dancing and paying undivided attention to what was going on stage, something that is increasingly harder and harder these days for a virtually unknown, unsigned artist.
Flint Eastwood was followed by pop singer Valerie Poxleitner, known as Lights. With a much more recognizable catalog of music it didn’t take much to get the crowd into her set. Lights was a bit of a contrast to Flint Eastwood as her stage demeanor is a bit more reserved, but her music is the show you’re watching. Lights played a selection of songs, mostly from her new album “Skin & Bones” with a few from her 2014 hit record “Little Machines” – which took home the 2015 JUNO Award for “Best Pop Album” in her native Canada. There’s a pretty big crossover between fans of Lights and fans of PVRIS so for a little bit it almost felt like a co-headlining show.
That buzz in the air reached its peak just as PVRIS took to the stage, opening with their track “Heaven” that drew shouted back choruses of “you took my heaven away” from the sold out crowd. From there on, it was abundantly clear that this was PVRIS’ show, crowd, and for at least one night their town. Multi-talented vocalist Lynn Gunn kept things fresh all night going from playing guitar to drums and even keys on a stripped down version of “Same Soul” and was never standing still for more than a verse. Gunn was flanked by PVRIS’ two other members Alex Babinski and Brian MacDonald, as well as touring drummer Justin Nace. All three are skilled musicians, but the spotlight belongs to Gunn. Gunn is a star in the making, it wouldn’t surprise me to see her on the level of names such as Hayley Williams soon enough, and the alternative rock scene is in desperate need for female vocalists with star power.
Getting back to PVRIS’ relationship with Boston, there was plenty of enthusiasm for the band from the crowd all night long, a crowd filled with family, friends, and fans. But it was more nuanced than what you see from the likes of Dropkick Murphys or Mighty Mighty Bosstones, in the sense it didn’t feel like a show hand tailored for Boston. The crowd was much more diverse and more knowledgeable on rock music and concert etiquette giving the feeling of a real rock show. PVRIS did what a lot of bands nowadays fail to do, and present their live performance as something separate from their records. Gunn’s turn on the drums, and stripped version of “Same Souls” were the most obvious evidence of it, but all night long PVRIS delivered their music with that live show energy you want from your rock bands.
PVRIS are only two albums into their career, but they already have the potential to give Boston something it needs, a relevant, popular, distinguishing rock band that will remind the rest of the world Boston can still produce some serious musical talent.