Alvvays is already well established in their status as a cult band and the crowd at the Paradise was more than ready to drink the Kool-Aid.
Welcomed with open arms for their self-titled debut album, Alvvays’ follow up, Antisocialites, has only added to the numbers of the band’s following. It’s amusing to see how much the crowd at the Paradise varies from night to night but there was no mistaking that this night’s audience was young, white, and there to politely head bop with PBR in hand.
Beeef! kicked things off with a slightly folk, slightly punk, but mostly dream pop set. Chock full of Boston references, they could easily fit as the creepily accurate soundtrack to your days of college parties and basement shows. Their set wasn’t the fuzzy or ambient half hour I was expecting from an Alvvays opener, instead I got keyed up pop with a dark twinge that makes the listener want to fall into the all-too-familiar trappings of youth. I highly suggest putting A Beeef CD on in the background for your next night of debauchery. They had me sold on them even before I was notified that two of their members founded this outlet. Oops, suppie guys.
Alvvays answered all of my prayers for a night of low-key dream pop. The opener was a local act and then it was straight into the rest of the night with the headliners. I will preface my review of the night with the confession that Antisocialites didn’t hit me the way that I wanted it to. Overall it is a well crafted, tight endeavor that is somehow simultaneously light and punchy. It has been slowly growing on me but Alvvays sold me on it a lot more with their live delivery of the album. Without the ability to master the bejesus out of their tracks, Alvvays delivered a much less polished and much more human version of almost every song on the album. ‘Already Gone’ was the lone song left out from Antisocialites but I agree that it was for the best – Alvvays has some songs that are lyrical bummers but that one does nothing to hide or package itself as anything but.
Alvvays’ live show is still as laidback as ever, but this does not mean the act lacks energy. None of the band members have a particularly rigorous or dynamic stage presence (there were few words spoken on stage between songs) but their intricate arrangements and dizzying projections gave more than enough to occupy the ears and eyes. It speaks volumes that singer Molly Rankin is able to execute a vocal performance that feels like copy and paste from their recorded material. It makes their choice to add more grit to their live instrumentation stand out all the more for it. I was particularly impressed with the mix of live and prerecorded drumming – drummer Phil MacIsaac laid out some complex rhythms while guitarist Alec O’Hanley controlled drum kit samples by foot.
The crowd showed full attention to the band as they made their way through a set with more than its fair share of emotion built in. I’m not sure if I’m as completely enamored with the band as others may be but their live show got me singing along with the crowd at full volume to more than just ‘Archie, Marry Me.’