The corner surrounding First Avenue was absolutely buzzing on Thursday night. Not only was there the packed show at the mainroom that I was attending, but there was also the legendary Pretenders playing at the ultra-intimate 7th Street Entry venue which is attached to the legendary mainroom. If I’m being quite honest, I wanted so badly to be in the line that was already formed for the Pretenders show but that had, unsurprisingly, sold out far too quickly for me to snag a ticket for and press spots were sparse to say the least. I knew that there was no way for me to sweet talk myself into that show so I reluctantly entered the mainroom. I feared that my FOMO was going to get the best of me as I watched the three bands perform on Thursday. I just so badly wanted to be part of the epicness of seeing Pretenders in such a small room but, thankfully, the three bands I saw were so dang good that I honestly forgot about what I was missing out on.
Kicking the all-ages show in the mainroom off was Pom Pom Squad. The solo project of frontwoman Mia Berrin but with a permanent band behind her, I knew nothing about this group as they started their set but they had me hooked quickly. There was something so sweet and innocent about the delivery of the nearly thirty-minute set but, when you really started to listen to the lyrics of the songs, you realized that Pom Pom Squad has an edge to them and I loved that. On top of that, I felt like there was an almost mature tone to Mia’s voice but the way she interacted with the crowd was a bit more playful. Much like the headliner of the night has in the past (more on that later), Pom Pom Squad left me confused but more than satisfied with their set.
I don’t remember all of the songs that Pom Pom Squad played just due to being unfamiliar with their music but I do remember them playing a brand new track, “Everybody’s Moving On”. Mia told the crowd that they had just finished this song a couple of days ago but it felt like such a polished and perfect track that it was hard to believe that. “Everybody’s Moving On” is a coming-of-age tour that is relatable at any age. With lyrics surrounding the theme of “Everybody’s moving on without me”, I felt every word hit me right to the core in a beautiful way. This was only heightened by the heart-on-sleeve-styled delivery of the words. Another stand out was the band’s unique cover of “Crimson + Clover” from Tommy James and the Shondells. It was a surprising choice but the way the entire band pulled it off definitely left an impression on me.
Following Pom Pom Squad was Pvris. I have to be honest, when walking into the show on Thursday, I would have put money on the idea that Pvris was headlining the show just due to the hype surrounding this group but I was wrong. That changed the dynamic of the night a bit and the fact that they were playing second on top of the idea that this was an all-ages show meant the packed venue was ripe with excitement before the clock even hit 7 PM.
The excitement around Pvris is not only real, it’s absolutely warranted. Fronted by Lynn Gunn, Pvris has been through a lot of changes since the group’s creation back in 2012 but one thing has remained consistent– the talent that vocalist Lynn Gunn has. When Pvris started, I feel like they tried to carve a little niche into the post-hardcore scene. I remember when they came out with their album ‘White Noise’. I loved the intensity that came with that but it didn’t last and the band quickly shifted into something a bit more commercial and a bit more dancey. I’ll be honest, I didn’t stick around for the ride. I would see their name from time to time but haven’t really gone out of my way to check out what this band was up to just because they have changed so much and their new style isn’t quite for me.
The last time I saw Pvris was back in 2016 so I went into their set on Thursday bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. This band has changed so much that that review from 2016 is practically null and void and that fact had me stoked for what was about to happen. Pvris hit the stage and instantly changed the mood of the club from a rock show to an almost EDM-hybrid type show. Okay, the vibe of a rock show was still there, I’m being dramatic, but there was definitely a shift where the bass came up and the lights started violently swirling around the crowd. I’ll be honest, stylistically, Pvris just isn’t for me with the heavy electronic influence but, that being said, I was stuck in the palm of Lynn’s hand. Her vocals are just absolutely freaking stunning. No other way to put it. She has this way of going from the sweetest of sweets to the most brutal of brutals without blinking an eye and I found it fascinating.
Pvris was given just over an hour on stage and they didn’t waste a single moment of it. Other than a couple of thank yous to the audience and a moment where Lynn invited the audience to meet the strangers around them, the focus was solely on the music throughout Pvris’ set and it was perfect. When you have such a devout following as Pvris has, you don’t need to spend time convincing the audience to love you, they are already hanging on your every single word and to see this band respect that and silently acknowledge that with their performance on Thursday was the icing on the cake.
Although I was super surprised that Pvris wasn’t headlining the show at first, the second that headlining act Poppy took the stage and the crowd erupted, I realized that it made sense. Although Pvris is a larger name in my mind, Poppy is clearly making some waves in the world right now and was absolutely worthy of the headlining slot. I mentioned earlier that Pom Pom Squad left me a bit confused– that’s how I felt the last time I saw Poppy. That was when she was opening for Smashing Pumpkins and Jane’s Addiction. Her set that night was ridiculously short, all over the place vibe-wise, and, on top of that, I felt like it was a weird pairing stylistically with the rest of the tour so I was so excited to see her own the night on Thursday.
I may have been confused by her style and sound last November but it somehow all clicked with me on Thursday. Stylistically, she is still very confusing. Think a little 100 Gecs intensity with a little Slipknot influence and then a dash of Taylor Swift sweetness. Like I said, confusing, but Poppy, born Moriah Rose Pereira, does it so well and without hesitation. As she powered through her nearly twenty-song set, I felt myself letting go of any preconceived notions I had about Poppy and just letting myself fall in love with her for what she is– uniquely Poppy.
There were many highlights throughout Poppy’s set like the moment she took a bite out of an apple right into the microphone to get that “crunch” sound before kicking one of her tracks (and then she threw the apple into the crowd which created a wee bit of a frenzy) to the moments where all she would do was stand there and the audience would absolutely lose their minds. All of these small snapshots of her set created a truly explosive end to an amazing evening.
I went into First Avenue a bit reluctantly on Thursday. I wanted so badly to be down at the 7th Street Entry to see The Pretenders. By the end of the night, I had all but forgotten about that show and left downtown feeling more than satisfied with how I spent my evening.