Concert Review: Alvvays bring sunny indie rock to DC9

Concert Review: Alvvays bring sunny indie rock to DC9

While most locals were standing miles away from the stage at the Concert for Valor on Nov. 11, a lucky few crowded the bar at DC9 for a chance to get up close and personal with Toronto-based indie band Alvvays.

Fans waited at the venue’s rooftop bar, enjoying the unseasonably warm weather before doors to the dimly-lit second-floor stage opened. Everyone who attended the show looked like they were a cool high school English teacher taking a night off from grading papers.

Fellow Canadians Absolutely Free opened the night with some strange experimental noise-pop. The crowd took a while to adjust to them, partially because they began with a droning, five-minute-long introduction that was basically aimless wailing, stirring up anticipation for the addition of drums that never came. Things picked up once the drums were added in subsequent songs, but it was still a bit spacey. It was as if they had gotten together and said, “Hey, we love Radiohead and the song ‘How You Remind Me’ by Nickelback. How can we make a band out of this?” Luckily, their set was relatively short.

Alvvays took the stage soon after, much to the relief of the now-packed house, starting off the night with “The Agency Group” from its self-titled debut record. Lead vocalist and guitarist Molly Rankin announced that this is technically the band’s first time performing in D.C. It was supposed to perform during “Snowmageddon” in 2010 - instead, the band members ended up doing karaoke in their hotel room.

The band progressed seamlessly through an impressive set, including a majority of its album. In a surprising decision, it played the band’s most popular song, “Archie, Marry Me” three-fourths of the way through the set, opting for a never-before-played new song, “Haircut” as its encore.

Rankin and her crew are adorable – they’re cheery and Canadian, unable to keep themselves from smiling because they’re clearly having so much fun. The group sounds different live than recorded, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Yet Rankin’s voice has a bit of a lower tone than it does on the record.

The crowd was subdued; the front row strangely stagnant despite the driving drums, courtesy of Phil MacIsaac. However, those that chose to dance experienced Alvvays completely – a full range of physical responses to what has to be some of the most fun music in the current indie market.

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