Alvvays frontwoman Molly Rankin's humility and affability is such that, when she greeted Hamilton's Studio last night (November 20) with an enthused smile, it was like she'd run into an old peer while in line for coffee.
The Toronto-based group (by way of Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island) took to the stage with "Hey" and "Adult Diversion," which reached new heights in a live setting. The sold-out audience was receptive, swaying to the power-pop charm that earned Alvvays a whirlwind of praise in the Canadian music scene over the last three years.
The band were last in Hamilton, Ontario for the 2015 Juno Awards ceremony, where they lost in their nominated categories. "I'm not at all bitter about it. I've never felt so free," joked Rankin.
Singles "Plimsoll Punks" and "In Undertow" from their latest LP Antisocialites received welcome reactions from the crowd at The Studio — redemption that the city owed the band, maybe, as Alvvays drummer Sheridan Riley came down with a bad case of food poisoning the last time she was in Hamilton — and album cut "Saved by a Waif" was incredibly infectious.
Their most popular track, "Archie, Marry Me," was greeted with excited shrieks and loud sing-alongs from the room of hundreds. "This song is dedicated to the people in the back of the room who are short and can't see. I've been that person, and I'm here for you," said Rankin.
There were a few missteps on the night: keyboardist Kerri MacLellan's vocal harmonies, an anchor throughout the set, were drowned in a sea of feedback during "Lollipop (Ode to Jim)," and "Not My Baby" didn't receive the same reaction that other new cuts did. "Forget About Life," which found Rankin on the mic without her guitar, was a nice change in dynamic, but it also felt a tad uncomfortable and outside of the band's element. They ended strongly, though, concluding their set with "Party Police," then revisiting the stage for an encore of "Dives" and "Next of Kin."
Rankin established herself throughout the performance as a fluent and consistent talent. She and her peers were rarely out of sync, especially with a musical catalogue so enunciated by her sunny vocal presence.
If anyone had expectations that their show would be an energetic affair, Alvvays played against them nicely, putting forth a relaxed, empathetic performance that never bored. Hamilton received a humble, mellow performance from one of Canada's most beloved independent acts.
Order Antisocialites on pink vinyl via Umusic.