Porches delivers zany, enjoyable perfection at The Chapel

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After hearing a few particularly loud calls of “Daddy!” from different members of the audience, Porches frontman Aaron Maine took a pause. With a coy smile playing around his lips, he turned his attention to where the exuberant calls were coming from. “You guys are fun. I need you right up front,” Maine said.

The audience parted respectfully to make way for the rowdy fans. Maine waited until they were front and center before he continued his set. He proceeded to playfully ask his most boisterous fans what they were doing after the show, a question received with a roar of cheers.

This brief, amusing moment encapsulated Porches’ attitude during its Tuesday night performance at The Chapel in San Francisco —  the band was kooky, zany and exactly what its audience wanted. A more-than-100-year-old converted mortuary, complete with a bar and disco ball, the unconventional venue appeared as though it were built for Porches, echoing the band’s playful character.

Maine dressed in a professional-looking outfit, one that wouldn’t look out of place in an office setting, which added to his charm and quirkiness. Decked in a smart, black turtleneck, Maine took pains to showcase his snazzily patterned dress pants during the duration of his performance, twirling midsong and wiggling his behind to the beat.

Contributing to the visual pleasure of the concert was its consistently well-executed lighting design. Perhaps owing to the fact that this was Porches’ second night in the same venue, the lights dazzled, perfectly synced to each drum beat. Beyond excellent aesthetics, Porches also delivered impressive musicality, with its setlist an equal blend between old and new hits.

Indeed, Maine took many opportunities to showcase the band’s newest album, The House, playing somber songs such as “Goodbye” and short, intimate tracks such as “Understanding.” These new numbers give Maine more chances to showcase his impressive vocal strengths, as the band’s accompaniment fades into the background. A departure from the band’s earlier synth-heavy tunes, Maine’s emphasis on newer work allowed his voice to take center stage, a welcome improvement.

Maine was interactive — even a little curt — with his audience during these slower moments, the only times that he seemed to mind the audience’s exuberance. His attitude made sense — during the relatively quiet openings of Porches’ newer material, Maine is much more vocally exposed. These songs place Maine’s introspective lyrics at the forefront, with the songs far more vulnerable and intimate than the band’s older work.

The performance of “Be Apart” from Porches’ album Pool provided the night’s stand-out moment. A bittersweet musing on the relatable fear of missing out on life, the song floated ethereally, seeming to strike a chord with the audience. Bassist Maya Laner’s vocal contributions in the song’s catchy chorus were more pronounced than in the track’s prerecorded version. Yet there was a downside to her additions — once she stopped singing, her absence was conspicuously noticed and feverently missed, each subsequent song feeling as though it would benefit with the supplementation of her vocal talent.

After Porches exited the stage, the audience was quick to rally for an encore. With breathless shouting, foot-stomping and perhaps a few more scattered calls of “Daddy,” the band filtered back on stage for a few more songs.

While Porches’ rendition of “Country” was a crowd pleaser, the band truly shined with “Headsgiving.” Already a humorous hit with tongue-in-cheek lyrics such as “I give you head / Before you head / To therapy,” this track found new life as the band’s closing number. Upbeat, provocative and perfectly suited for swinging hips, Porches’ live rendition took liberties with the original song’s rhythm, providing a surprise for the audience members who tried to dance to the song’s original beat.

Whether the band performed an old or new track, an original rhythm or a revamped one, Porches’ crowd grooved with whatever was thrown its way. While the lighting design made use of the disco ball overhead, it couldn’t compete with Porches’ brilliant performance — the band lit up the room all on its own.

Contact Sarah Alford at [email protected].