featuring Snail Mail and Hatchie
September 25, 2018 @ Paradise Rock Club
When the clock struck 7pm, the doors of Paradise Rock Club were opened, and the line of concertgoers along Commonwealth began to shuffle inside. Although the headlining act wasn’t hitting the stage until 11 (that’s rock n’ roll, baby), the venue filled up early as eager fans piled in to get a good view of Alvvays, supported by Snail Mail and Hatchie, in a sold-out show. Against a shimmering backdrop of metallic silver streamers, and accompanied by a drum set aptly labeled “DRUM” on the front bass, each female-led (!) act commanded the stage in their own distinct way, making for a dynamic display of artistry and a rockin’ night of music.
Hatchie, the singer/songwriter hailing from Brisbane, Australia, kicked things off by immediately sweeping the crowd into a sugary sweet haze of synth pop. Harriette Pilbeam, aka Hatchie herself, stood centered at the mic, strumming her guitar with ease throughout the set. There was something satisfying about watching as her accompanying band members played along, all faithfully bopping their heads to the beat. Hatchie’s performance was mellow and subdued, which paired well with her soft, mesmerizing voice, and the dreamlike quality of her music. Hatchie let us all float along on a cloud with her, and it was a wholly pleasant experience to be apart of.
Snail Mail performed next, with frontwoman Lindsay Jordan transitioning the sound to guitar-driven indie rock, bringing with her a visceral and captivating presence. I had seen Snail Mail open for Beach Fossils just about a year ago, before the release of her debut album Lush, and before Pitchfork took notice and bestowed the prestigious title of “Best New Music” on the LP. Aside from this critical success, it was clear that Jordan had grown in her confidence as a performer as well. Every moment of her set felt raw and genuine. She perfectly blended the emotive angst in her music with a youthful charm—Jordan couldn’t suppress a smile every time the audience cheered at the opening notes of each song. As her glow-in-the-dark painted nails moved deftly up and down the neck of her guitar, she drew in every crowd member with her passionate and controlled vocal delivery, until the very last notes of the set.
Although it’s been a year since Alvvays’ latest release, Antisocialites, there was no indication by the completely packed, buzzing crowd that this was old news. After a very fitting opening with the song ‘Hey,’ the band launched fully into their set, exuberating a cheerful energy throughout the whole night. Lead singer Molly Rankin was laid back but lively, bouncing around the stage as she plucked at her guitar.
Each track came to new life in this live setting, taking on more of a rock sound, but losing a little of the fuzziness and nostalgia that is so characteristic to the records. The majority of the songs were from Antisocialites, save a few favorites from the band’s self-titled debut, including ‘Adult Diversion’ and of course, ‘Archie, Marry Me’ (truly, an indie-pop treasure). The band moved from song to song quickly, but slowed down mid-set for a poignant performance of ‘Forget About Life,’ with Rankin forgoing her guitar and singing straight out to the audience, enchanting all with her delicate, echo-y vocals. I always find shows to be more vibrant and entertaining when the band changes the dynamic of their act in a way like this, rather than plowing through each song without much variation in performance.
The band closed off the night on a two-song encore with ‘Next of Kin’ and a cover from the British post-punk band Dolly Mixture, who Rankin cites as an influence for Alvvays’ sound. As the crowd dispersed back on to the streets after the show, I had no doubt that the music of the evening would be in their dreams tonite.
Photos by Casey Martin