After a time of canceled and postponed shows, things are the opposite this summer and fall. Tours that were put off are finally happening, and the ones that were rescheduled are too, creating one of the biggest concert seasons I’ve seen. It feels like every one of my favourite bands who’s been itching to get back on stage has upcoming shows, making it hard for me to even keep up and making most of my upcoming weekends wonderfully packed with shows!
One partnership, in particular, is bringing in a huge group of artists in the next few months: Harrisburg University’s concert series, Harrisburg University (HU) Presents, along with Central Pennsylvania music venue, XL Live. And they recently started this amazing show series of at least 25—yes 25!—musical artists including some big names like Bishop Briggs, All Time Low, Bleachers, and Dashboard Confessional.
HU Presents celebrated their first show back since COVID-19 on August 14th with the two incredible electro-pop acts of Royal & the Serpent followed by PVRIS, packing the venue with an eager crowd and anticipation for a show that was likely many people’s first in a long time.
Los Angeles-based band, Royal & the Serpent — who released her debut EP, Get a Grip, in 2020 via Atlantic — opened for PVRIS with their rebellious lyrics, quirky punk outfits and tattoos, and high energy. Lead singer and songwriter Ryan Santiago bounced around the stage, hyping the crowd up with songs of hers like “Phuck You” and queer anthem “Girls.”
Ryan joined her friends and bandmates, Beauty School Dropout, for a cover of Juice WRLD’s hit song “Lucid Dreams,” which had much of the crowd singing and dancing along. They finished the set with viral TikTok hit, “Overwhelmed,” which had everyone jumping and yelling along.
The short intermission only built more excitement in the audience. Before we even saw or heard any of the band members, an ethereal set of warm-toned ring lights subtly illuminated the darkness, giving us a taste for the awesome display of lights to come. PVRIS — who released their latest album, Use Me, in 2020 via Warner, which featured the singles “Death of Me,” “Hallucinations,” “Gimme a Minute,” and “Use Me” — emerged, diving into a seamless set of songs like their latest single “Monster” and old favourites like “St. Patrick” and “You and I.”
All three band members performed in harmony, even treating us to a couple of new songs, giving fans a preview of future music. Transitioning from faster-paced songs, they slowed into the intimate atmosphere that their song “Eyelids” created. The band all together created a dynamic set that jumped from energetic and powerful songs to haunting acoustics all tied together with lead-singer, Lynn Gunn’s strong, gritty vocals.
Later on, as the audience cheered for an encore, a surprising ominous voice boomed through the speakers. A scary robotic voice said he was holding PVRIS captive and would only release them if the crowd could learn and sing the lyrics to the next song. After some mysterious taunting, the crowd sang the lyrics well-enough, laughing as the voice “let” PVRIS hit the stage again for their encore. Captivating multi-coloured lights complimented their alluring electro-pop tune “Hallucinations.” And the show ended with echoes of musical brilliance, buzzing of happiness that we get to be back here again, and excitement for all of the shows still yet to come.