Alvvays and Alex G Showed Toronto Why They're Similar Artists with Opposite Strengths

Budweiser Stage, August 28

With Tanukichan

Photo: Stephen McGill

BY Kaelen BellPublished Aug 29, 2023

When Alvvays and Alex G announced their co-headlining tour earlier this year, it felt like a well-deserved victory lap; here were two beloved acts who'd been plugging away for a decade and change, basking in the greatest acclaim and biggest crowds they'd ever seen. At last night's Budweiser Stage show, that victory lap hit a small hurdle — or, rather a fence — in a closed-off lawn at the back of the venue, an indication that perhaps their combined ragtag star power was still slightly too small to be filling a venue of that size. 

Regardless, the size of the crowd was of little importance to the songs being played on the stage or energy of those in attendance; it was a night that felt, above all, well earned. 

For about an hour on Monday night, Alex G was a rock star, a punk, a balladeer, a country crooner; the Pennsylvanian musician's performance was an exercise in extremes, a whiplash-inducing run through his various guises that left room for punishing thrash and dustbowl twang in equal measure. 

Alex Giannascoli has always approached his genre-agnostic music with a pointillist's sensibility, dabbing hyperpop into the contours of a folk song or calypso rhythms into the staid strum of Americana. Last night's show took that delicate approach and blew it up to stadium-sized proportions, leaning into the ceiling-collapse force of songs like "Brick" and "Horse" and letting his quieter tracks soak up some of their burly, complicated masculinity. 

There was little stage banter — save for an end-of-show shoutout to the various men who made the show possible — and the whole thing felt propelled by a sense of instability, as though Giannascoli's songs could unravel and collapse at any given moment. There was a particular energy to the crowd too, as pockets of zoomers (singing along to every word in big pants and tiny shirts, phone cameras switching continually between filming the stage and filming themselves) brought a youthful level of devoted fandom that felt fitting for such a large venue. This was Alex G as stadium-conquering rock star — and, judging by the bodies clinging to one another and leaning precariously from their seats, he has the fans to back it up. 

If Alex G's set was defined by a sense of hair-raising instability, then Alvvays' performance was notable for its anchored precision. For all the speaker-disintegrating bombast of Blue Rev, Alvvays have always been a band of interiority and quietude; they're not rock stars in any traditional sense, instead approaching their shows at eye level with their audience (despite towering above them on Budweiser's jumbotrons).

The band were steadfast as ever as they tore through a healthy mix of Blue Rev ragers and older fan favourites (yes, they played "Archie, Marry Me"), though Molly Rankin was notably animated, spinning as she clutched her guitar and quipping quietly between songs that they were amazed to be playing somewhere bigger than the Silver Dollar (R.I.P.). 

The zoomy energy of Alex G's set was notably absent for Alvvays, with the crowd settling into the music in a way that felt reciprocated by the band. For all the looks-like-we-made-it homecoming bombast that the show could've held, it felt refreshingly low-key — just another opportunity to watch a great band be great.

When they came back out for their encore of "Saved by a Waif," "Velveteen" and "Lottery Noises," it felt both perfunctory and oddly satisfying — Alvvays are here to do a job, and they do it exceptionally well. 

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