The dreampop genre evokes headphones-on, lying-on-the-bedroom-floor rock — floating away from (or into) troubles, awash in shimmering guitars and hushed vocals. But Canadian quintet Alvvays proved they are much more than studio wiz-kids during a pair of shows at Brooklyn’s Prospect Park on Tuesday and Wednesday, co-headlining with veteran indie rocker Alex G.
Singer/guitarist Molly Rankin is the pulsing heart of Alvvays, her voice powerful and clear through her hook-filled songs of melancholy. While her unexpectedly powerful voice and guitar work can sometimes get lost in the shiny mix of their records, it’s at the forefront of their live shows. Keyboard player Kerri MacLellan and guitarist Alec O’Hanley added plenty of texture, a crucial tactic for an outdoor show where sound can literally get lost in the wind.
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Alvvays’ live show also allows the opportunity for their songwriting to sound differentiated and singular. While their brilliant 2022 album “Blue Rev” is sequenced in a way to keep the vibe going, by switching up the track order and adding songs from their previous two albums for the set, they were able to jump around from the Smiths-y guitars of “After the Earthquake” to the huge synths of “Tile by Tile,” and from the experimental vocals of “Very Online Guy” to the singalong “Archie, Marry Me.”
The group’s music doesn’t really lend itself to rocking out, but the audience adored them — there were multiple Phoebe Bridgers t-shirts spotted in the crowd — and they clearly won over new fans with the one-two punch of set-enders “Dreams Tonite” and “Easy on Your Own?” Those yearning singalongs floated on the cool evening air, as the voices of fans rose to meet Rankin.
On a similar note, indie vet Alex G’s albums, particularly his early ones, often have a chill, bedroom vibe, which makes the muscular sound of his ace three-piece backing band an unexpectedly rocking surprise. That’s not to say they were channeling AC/DC, but the band’s impressive power and tightness lifted the energy of many of the songs considerably, especially the more low-key tracks from his latest album, 2022’s “God Save the Animals.”
True to the ethos of the extended indie-rock community both acts came from, this is a co-headlining tour of the Northeast, and for these two opening nights, they switched places in the lineup — but no matter which act went first, it’s a fulfilling night with two artists whose sound complements and never overshadows each other. It wraps in Buffalo on Sept. 1.
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