Alvvays Leaves It All Onstage at the Iron Horse


The old show-biz adage “always leave them wanting more” wasn’t a problem for Alvvays Thursday night in Northampton. The Toronto band played pretty much everything it had during the quintet’s late set at the Iron Horse Music Hall. The crowd of college-age kids bopping around throughout probably wouldn’t have minded if they’d played it all again.

Alvvays released its self-titled debut LP in July. It’s a winsome collection of nine songs full of arresting melodies, hazy guitars and lyrics with a wonderful sense of deadpan yearning. The group brought them to life in concert with the practiced tightness that comes from playing together live, and while the musicians weren’t particularly demonstrative onstage, they didn’t need to be: the songs took care of that for them.

Singer Molly Rankin comes across as the quiet one at a party who doesn’t say much, but is dry and devastatingly funny when she does. She reinforces that impression with her lyrics on songs like “Next of Kin,” a hilariously plaintive dead-boyfriend tune (“I left my love in the river,” she sings), and with her stage banter, which included instructions on pronouncing the name of the band (it’s “always,” double v’s notwithstanding). “Some people say ‘Alvays,'” Rankin said. “Resist the urge.”

The band played most of the songs on its album, with Rankin projecting lovelorn exasperation on “Party Police” and daring herself to take action to make her passive infatuation known on “Adult Diversion.” Kerri MacLellan’s keyboard parts were more audible live than on the album, adding texture to the songs, while guitarist Alec O’Hanley buoyed Rankin’s rhythm playing with licks and leads that culminated in a crashing solo on “Archie, Marry Me,” which closed the band’s set after a cover of the Primitives’ “Out of Reach.”

New York band Team Spirit opened with a set of hipster hard-rock that called to mind what the Mooney Suzuki might have sounded like if they had listened to Judas Priest instead of the Who or, as a friend suggested, what the Hold Steady would sound like if they listened to Eddie Money instead of Bruce Springsteen.

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