Alvvays, Partner and Mardeen play stellar Saturday-night sets at Sappy-coordinated show
Last Friday, three bands, all with maritime roots, played a captivating show put together by SappyFest. A large crowd made the pilgrimage to George’s Roadhouse to indulge in good drinks, good company, and a trio of brilliant bands: Partner, Mardeen, and Alvvays.
Sackville’s own musical gem, Partner, was up first. The band has been a buzzword around Sackville since blowing everyone away at this year’s fall fair, and since being signed with You’ve Changed Records. Headed by Lucy Niles and Josée Caron, Partner played a lively show, doing a top-notch job of engaging the audience’s full attention with their blunt lyrics and a sound reminiscent of some of the best 1990s grunge punk. When partner played their popular hit “Hot Knives,” it was evident that aside from playing great music the band has copious amounts of stage presence—not to mention they ooze coolness from their pores. Niles unapologetically asked the audience for a tampon mid-set, and the rest of the band kept the crowd going with a cover of Cake’s “Short Skirt Long Jacket.” Thankfully, a gracious audience member came to the rescue and Niles ran off to a very flooded ladies room.
The archetype of Maritime indie pop, Mardeen, took the stage next. The Halifax four-piece got the crowd moving with “Silver Fang” from their EP of the same name, and had no trouble holding their own next to Partner and the headlining Alvvays. I can’t say that I had high expectations for their set; however, the band entranced the audience with a calm and collected vibe while managing to maintain the high energy that Partner kicked off. I wasn’t a Mardeen fan before Friday night, but you can be sure their Bandcamp page is now favourited on my internet browser.
Finally, the much-anticipated Alvvays hit the stage. After a killer set from both Partner and Mardeen, Alvvays had a high standard to live up to—I for one had been looking forward to seeing the Toronto-based band since tickets went on sale in late August. Their twinkly jangle pop, decorated with heartfelt lyrics, was stellar. Molly Rankin, Alvvays’s frontwoman, serenaded the crowd with her soft, melodic voice.
However, I found that most of the songs in Alvvays’s set sounded very similar. For the most part, there wasn’t much variation in the band’s energy; it would have been nice to see a greater diversity in power and intensity in what was played. Despite this, what was lost on presence was balanced by the band’s idyllic music and lyrics. As always, the band kept the crowd mesmerized with plentiful hooks while still maintaining a sense of serenity in their showmanship.
The locals, the indie pop-ers, and the Toronto-based favourites: Only in Sackville can you pay $15 to see three solid bands—and get your feet wet from overflowing toilets at the same time.