Toronto-based indie group entrances Legion.
Alvvays bade a sweet and sweaty farewell to the Maritimes Saturday night with a sold-out show at Sackville’s Royal Canadian Legion. Together with an opening set from the Mouthbreathers, the evening was a double-helping of high-energy indie rock.
The Sept. 12 show was Alvvays’ final stop in Atlantic Canada before heading off across Canada, parts of the U.S., and Europe.
The concert felt fast-paced and charged with energy despite the group’s decidedly chilled- out melodies. The audience was enthusiastic and regularly broke out in an extraordinarily friendly mosh pit as fans vied for time before the stage. Alvvays seemed to feed off this energy, quickly transitioning from a dreamy, feel good, nineties-style tunes like “Adult Diversion” to haunting, slower melodies with “Party Police.”
Arguably the band’s best known song, “Archie, Marry Me,” was a clear audience favourite, eliciting cheers and fist pumps from around the hall. Over the summer, the song rose to number one on the U.S. college charts, and has been endorsed on the CBC Radio One show Q by Stars singer Torquil Campbell. Like most of the group’s tracks, the song hides wistful, enticingly fuzzy vocals behind a powerful bass line and a steady drum beat. The result is a subtly balanced love ballad that expresses tender feelings of longing amid lyrics that slyly mock our jaded generation’s notoriously laissez-faire attitude toward relationships. The song opens with the lines “You’ve expressed explicitly your contempt for matrimony/You’ve student loans to pay and will not risk the alimony” before launching into the pleading,
yet casually detached refrain, “Hey, hey, marry me Archie.”
Ultimately, Alvvays’ ability to express contradiction is what makes the band such a worthwhile listen. Molly Rankin’s vocals are imbued with emotion and passion despite their casual, almost spontaneous delivery. The band’s songs have an upbeat, pop-inspired, feel-good quality that is simultaneously isolating and melancholic. Their lyrics express feelings of isolation and insecurity, and yet the overall mood of their songs remain soothing and relaxed.
And, perhaps most importantly, the band is always ready to mix serious themes with clever wordplay and astute humour, as is evidenced in the chorus of “Adult Diversion”: “If I should fall, act as though it never happened/I will retreat, and then go back to university.”
Alvvays is an exciting, up-and- coming band with a lot of promise. With fresh new sounds, their live concert lived up to the hype surrounding their new album. The band gave it all they had and the audience was duly appreciative. The
performance was not to be missed, and well worth the twelve-dollar cover charge.
Alvvays (pronounced ‘always’) is a five-member group composed of vocalist Molly Rankin, keyboardist Kerri MacLellan, guitarist Alec O’Hanley, bassist Brian Murphy, and drummer Phil MacIsaac. The group is based in Toronto, but has roots in the Maritimes: a part of their debut self-titled album was recorded in a farmhouse in rural Prince Edward Island.