Even before the lopsided outcome at Carver-Hawkeye played out, I firmly believed the hottest ticket in Iowa City on Friday night was the Alvvays concert at the Blue Moose Tap House. Frankly, you could have gone to the game, left just after halftime when the result was no longer in doubt, and caught the great show put on by Alvvays and opener Sun Club. The performance would have lifted the spirits of even the most downhearted Hawkeye fan. Hell, Sam managed to still have a good time once the music started.
Even though this young Canadian band has just one album to its credit, I’ve been rewarded by shows from bands of similar stature. Cults comes to mind: just one album out when I saw them in 2011, but it was a wonderful rendition of said songs. Same thing happened here at Blue Moose, and I didn’t have to drive to St. Louis to see them as I did with Cults.
Some answers to questions posed by the uninitiated:
- It’s pronounced “always,” even though I prefer to pronounce it “all-vays.”
- If you’re looking for a “Recommended If You Like” reference, the best/easiest answer is Best Coast.
- Yes, they are adorable.
They started the show attempting to start a beef between Iowa City (or maybe the state of Iowa in general) and Charlotte, N.C., over the “first in flight” dispute. (I don’t care what your license plates say, North Carolina; I am firmly in the camp that the “hop” in Burlington, Iowa, gives our state bragging rights.) It was like the polar opposite of the singer saying hello to the wrong city; these clever Canadians had done their research.
Anyway, their sunny sounds translated very well in the Moose (easily my favorite venue in terms of sonics). The crowd, which was disappointingly small, made up for things by bringing a lot of energy. (Alvvays singer Molly Rankin acknowledged that our enthusiasm exceeded that of crowds twice our size.)
Well-regarded songs like “Adult Diversion” (my favorite song) and “Marry Me, Archie” got the crowd going. I believe the latter song was the one that prompted my friend Mark, clad in his finest Canadian tuxedo to honor the band’s homeland, to repeatedly pump his fist in revelry. Good music will do that to a guy; doesn’t hurt when the song is led by a blonde rockin’ a guitar.
“Atop a Cake” had the crowd singing along to the chorus and “Next of Kin” featured a nice swoon throughout the song. Songs like “Dives” and “Red Planet” took me back to another pleasant Blue Moose moment, recalling the sounds of Camera Obscura around the time of the My Maudlin Career album.
The openers, Sun Club, impressed the crowd with endless bounce. What I listened to online before the show seemed really calm compared with the songs played at the Moose. Their drummer in particular was a beast. Good way to set the mood for the show. Keep doing what you’re doing, boys.
So with a great show under their belt and an album that ranks highly in my year-end rankings (more on that later this week), Alvvays has my attention. Can’t wait for what’s next. Come back soon.