A Nightmare On Burnside: CHVRCHES at the Roseland

Kicking off the month of October in perfect fashion, Scottish pop band CHVRCHES brought a synth-pop nightmarescape to a packed Roseland Theater for their Screen Violence tour. Photos by Emma Davis and words by Bren Swogger.

The stretch of Burnside in Old Town Portland by the Roseland Theater had seen better days. It had never been the best part of town by any measure, but now, strewn with garbage and slick spots of questionable scents, it felt like the definition of the city’s nightmarish underbelly.

By 7:00 on October 1st, the sun was already below the horizon, the dwindling light in the sky casting a twilight hue upon the decrepit streets. Only a block walk to the theater’s doors felt stretched, as the streets lay empty and quiet, save for a few figures seeming to lurk in the shadows of dark corners and alleyways.

There was a deeply unsettling feeling of foreboding moving about the city, but just inside the theater, all bright fluorescents and bustling activity, was the furthest thing from a nightmare.

Kicking off the month of October, Scottish pop band CHVRCHES brought their new horror-inspired record, Screen Violence, to Portland just in time for the Halloween season. Everything inside was committed to the album’s theme, with blood-soaked merch on display, and classic horror movie scores playing over the loudspeakers.

Just before taking the stage, one of their album’s biggest sonic and thematic inspirations filled the room, as the iconic droning synth notes of the Nightmare on Elm Street theme played out. Taking the stage, CHVRCHES launched right into album single “He Said She Said,” and thus began their 17 song run of synth pop wonders.

Playing through a perfectly crafted setlist of new and old, CHVRCHES took the sold out crowd on a journey through their sound, all tied together by their passion for horror and the classic synth sounds of 80s slashers. Check out Emma Davis’ full photo gallery below.

Emma Davis
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