There was a lot of movement in Thalia Hall at the Alvvays show last Friday. The sold-out crowd bounced instead of head bobbing, swayed instead of standing. Having attended an Alvvays concert before, I was prepared—the London show I saw in 2015 included a mosh pit.
Alvvays must have been aware of the motion at their shows when creating their projection effects: twirling planets, circulating pool water and buzzing television static . The motion-centric effects played nicely into the set rather than distracting or underwhelming the crowd.
The infectious tunes radiated from vocalist Molly Rankin. Rankin emanated the cool characteristics of any rock star: witty banter, vocals just as crisp as the studio versions and guitar jamming that seemed concurrently insular and far-reaching. Her performance stands in rank with a few of my other favorite rock stars that I’ve been able to see live: Courtney Barnett, Brittany Howard, Sufjan Stevens.
Alvvays’ live set inspired me to turn around no less than three times to claim my favorite song off their latest album to my friend: “Plimsol Punks” I said before the feel-good chords to “Lollipop (Ode To Jim)” bubbled through the amps. I decided on “Dreams Tonite” after hearing Rankin croon the lyrics over ethereal keys and Kerri MacLellan’s pristine backing vocals.
Alvvays is fresh off their sophomore album Antisocialites, and the new songs form an impressively cohesive library alongside 2014’s self-titled release. With only 19 songs to blast in headphones and speakers at home, fans reacted enthusiastically to every track played. A few slow-burners like “Red Planet” and “The Agency Group” sounded affectingly genuine in the small, vintage concert hall. “Party Police” and “Archie, Marry Me” had the audience nailing nearly every word while jiving along to the dance-y choruses.
Rankin thanked opener Jay Som while onstage, proclaiming that they were her favorite band and album of the year. Jay Som’s set was a bit more controlled than their show at Subterranean in September, but that’s to be expected of an opening set. Melina Duterte, the band’s vocalist and guitarist, expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to tour with Alvvays, a statement that seemed honest in contrast to the sometimes obligatory nature of such comments.
Jay Som connected with the audience most during tracks “Baybee” and “The Bus Song”—both singles off her 2017 album Everybody Works.
Although Friday’s show had been sold-out for around a month, I saw people purchase tickets at the door — something I’ll keep in mind for future in-demand shows at Thalia Hall. The crowd was manageable in the two-floor venue, but a helpful tip I learned was to try the upstairs bar for shorter lines, ambient lighting, local drafts and a few small tables.
The half-seated, half-general admission tickets made sense for how fans want to experience a band like Alvvays, however, I was glad to count myself amongst the lucky fans with plimsolled-feet jumping around on the floor.