Lauren Mayberry has been onstage at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. before. Many times, in fact.
The lead singer of the band Chvrches has played sold-out shows here — and all over the world. But this one, on Monday night, is different.
The posters and T-shirts don’t say Chvrches, they say “Lauren Mayberry.”
That’s because her bandmates aren’t here this time.
“Which is quite sad, but good for everyone to fly the coop for a little bit and then come back together,” she says.
This is the first live concert of her new solo career.
And just before the show, All Things Considered sits down to chat backstage with Mayberry about this next phase.
Lauren Mayberry: Until about 20 minutes ago, I was down scrambling around on the stage, putting the final bits of stage set together, because really we’ve run out of time. And I’m not very well versed in such things. But now I can work a cable tie really quick. I was, like, putting them on, cutting them off, putting them on, cutting them off — it was great.
Ari Shapiro: Is it making you regret the decision at all, that you’re now doing…
Mayberry: I mean in Chvrches, there’s people to do the cable ties for you. But no, I think it’s exciting, it feels exciting. It feels odd, it’s definitely been an odd readjustment.
Mayberry has only released one solo track so far, which came out just a few days before the show.
And “Are You Awake” is a slow piano ballad that sounds nothing like the electro-dance-pop of Chvrches.
Mayberry: Me and the managers and the label were like, “What song do we put out?” I definitely wanted to make it clear that I’m not just going to be trying to rip off the band all the time, but also it’s not all going to be downbeat sobbing piano ballads.
I love the band, I’m grateful for the band, I’m never going to cut that grass — that grass is meant to be over there. And I think that’s partly why I was like, something that’s so different is a good palate cleanser. It kind of, like, scorches the earth. So people can be like, “Just so you know, don’t expect that.” But then there’s definitely more bangers.
Onstage Monday night, she keeps that promise.
As she tells the crowd: “There’s two depressing slow ones, and then the rest of them have a bit of pep.”
Mayberry performs a tight nine-song set — eight originals, and her only cover is not a Chvrches song but, rather, a fizzy rendition of Madonna’s “Like A Prayer.”
Back in conversation with us before the show, Mayberry is a little bemused by it all.
Mayberry: I’m very excited and honestly baffled that people have bought tickets to these shows before there was any music.
Shapiro: Your advertising didn’t even say “From Chvrches.” It didn’t reference your career with the band. It was just your name. And yet, I don’t know if you saw this, people were lined up around the block before the doors opened to come and see you.
Shapiro: Just now, moments ago!
Mayberry: Now that’s going to make me misty. Don’t do that. I mean, I feel just really blown away by that. I’m very grateful. And I kind of like, in a way — first we were freaking out that we didn’t have more music before the tour, and then we were like, wait, maybe that’s actually quite cool and kind of old school in a way. You know, I’m all over the internet with, like, my socials and stuff and everyone’s all over the internet, as well we should. But in a way, I think it’s quite nice to not know something.