Photos by Neil Van
An artist selling out a venue is no small feat. For music lovers today, there are a hundred ways to spend time and money. The easy route is at the tip of your fingers through a phone, or a computer. Sure, going to a concert is fun, but when people choose to see live music, they are making a statement. Alvvays selling-out the Danforth Music Halls for 4 consecutive nights, and having to add a fifth show is pretty impressive. Clearly, the band is a musical force in this town.
Show opener, Snail Mail, hails from Baltimore, Maryland. Fronted by a diminutive singer, the band played a 45-minute set and graciously thanked the growing crowd for coming early to hear them play. Their sound is vaguely reminiscent of Mazzy Star which had the potential to be interesting, but lacked any of the dynamics that would have elevated their set.
Headliners, Alvvays took to the stage and, without any fuss, got down to business. Singer, Molly Rankin carried the bulk of performance side of the show, but the band sounded polished – years of touring paying off. The five-piece started with Hey and three songs in came the first radio-friendly hit, In Undertow. Tunes that sound dreamy and ethereal on studio recordings, take on a slightly punkier sound live. Rankin and keyboardist Kerri MacLellan, do an admirable job with the airy vocals from the stage, yet they can add a dash of spirit where needed. Songs like Plimsoll Punks become even more infectious with a crowd bopping along.
A shimmery veil offered a decidedly DIY feel to the staging. The simple backdrop looked to be made of giant tinsel hula skirt that had been unfurled and hoisted up. It was easy to get distracted by the shininess of it all. The chorus of Forget About Life, gave Rankin the chance to entice the crowd with the phrase “Do you want to forget about life with me tonight?” They did. Rankin does not believe in stage banter, it seems. One of her few exchanges with the crowd revolved around teeth – adult braces, to be specific. The fun moment between artist and fans was endearing. More of that connection would have been nice, but the straightforward serving up of great music still made for a fun experience.
The remainder of the set was peppered with the songs fans want to hear – Archie, Marry Me and Dreams Tonite among them. A two song encore tied the evening up with a bow. The night ended at a very respectable hour, presumably allowing Alvvays time to rest and do it all over again the next night, and the night after and the night after…