The Pierces

Catherine Pierce performs at Mercury Lounge

It’s not often that performers sound better live than their recordings. The Pierces shine.

Walking into the Mercury Lounge around 9:30, close knit groups still bundled in coats stood around talking. The lights on stage fell on a single set of drums with perfection. You know you’re in a good venue when they don’t forget about the drummer. It didn’t take long for the crowd to fill up as The Woody Creek Kids opened for the Pierces. More about The Woody Creek Kids’ performance here.

As they finished and introduced the Pierces, the audience began to pack toward the front.

Each song was played to perfection, and the supporting band was easily one of the best I’ve seen. The sound quality at Mercury Lounge is also fantastic (at least in the locations where I stood – front stage left and right). I don’t know if this quality is entirely due to the venue or to the sound crew, but either way, the volume was pleasant (no earplugs necessary) with a good mix of clear vocals and crisp instruments.

The energy during their song Sticks and Stones was tremendous. It was as if you could feel the song coursing through the Pierces’ veins as they performed. Sticks and Stones is a good song, but personally I liked other songs better; this performance was so excellent it made it a favorite and epitomized why you need to see an artist live. The floor was pulsing with the jumping of nearby fans who were going frantic, and the Pierces fed off this energy. At the end of the song when one hyped up audience member shouted out a request for the next song, Allison, still brimming with energy from performing Sticks and Stones quipped,  “I need a minute. That’s a hard song to stop.” But they did continue on to perform for the first time on stage a new song, Space and Time, which I expect to land on their new album.

Indeed, the Pierces put a twist on the songs on their albums when they perform live, either slightly changing the rhythms and timing of singing or in their actual movements as they perform a song. No song is a better example of this than Secret, their biggest hit. You may be familiar with their signature dance from Gossip Girl – both sisters sway one arm to the beat in unison. At the Mercury Lounge however, they performed a different rendition of Secret where Allison played guitar. This meant she was not participating in the performance as she usually would since her arm was not free to sway. With the good comes the bad, and I found this detrimental to the duality in the lyrics, “Two can keep a secret / If one of them is dead.”

There is always variation in how Secret ends (which sister gets shot? Do they sing the last word or does it end with the heavy stroke of a guitar?), but I missed seeing Allison as an active part of the performance. The one place I must critique this show is that it seems Allison is falling in the shadow of her sister. I hope to see Allison more actively pursue the limelight; while Catherine is a force to contend with, Allison’s personality shines on stage whenever she speaks and we want more of her.

This rendition ended with Catherine shooting the audience:

The Pierces - Secret - Catherine

Catherine shoots the audience at the end of Secret

The song Boring also pleasantly varied from the recording, but I’ll leave this as a surprise for when you see them perform.

The set list from the night:

The Pierces Set List

The coveted set list lies on the stage while the Pierces perform

  • Drag you down
  • Forgotten
  • Love you more
  • Secret
  • Sticks and stones
  • Space and time
  • You’ll be mine
  • We are stars
  • Glorious
  • Boring

Had enough yet? No? We’ll be posting a gallery of pictures from the show within the next few days. In the meantime, check out future tour dates at