Alvvays at the Independent

With the remnants of the weekend still lingering, finding the motivation to leave your couch and see live music on a Monday night is no easy task. A general sense of weariness can be a staple for Monday crowds, and sometimes that low-energy vibe is mirrored by the performers on stage.

Not the case on Monday at the Independent, where Alvvays — seriously enthusiastic to be back in San Francisco, despite a series of recent misfortunes here — played an exuberant set to a surprisingly engaged and responsive crowd.

The five-piece power pop group from Canada was performing the first of their two sold-out shows at the venue. It was the band’s first appearance in San Francisco since they were denied entry into the country due to visa issues before their slated gig at the Outside Lands Music Festival this past summer. With those woes behind her, Molly Rankin — the band’s crystalline-voiced lead singer — beamed throughout the performance, clearly happy to be playing in front of such a large and boisterous crowd.

“San Francisco is a very a special place for us, even though the last time we made it here, our van got broken into,” said Rankin at the start of the show, referring to the group's performance last November at the Rickshaw Stop.

Rankin and Alvvays (pronounced Always) opened the show with a stirring rendition of “Atop a Cake,” one of the many effortlessly-catchy tunes from the band's self-titled debut album, released last year. From there, they segued into “Agency Group” and “Next of Kin,” two more strong recordings from their album, before playing a new song—one of four unreleased tracks they played on Monday night.

For a group with only nine songs in their official discography, Alvvays did a pretty savvy job mixing up their material on Monday night. Along with the new tunes, they played a dreamy cover version of Camera Obscura’s classic hit, “Lloyd, I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken.” Given that Rankin’s voice is a dead-ringer for Tracyanne Campbell, that cover choice seemed particularly appropriate. Alvvays closed their set with obvious crowd-pleaser, “Archie, Marry Me,” a joyous singalong selection that is their most well-known and fully-realized track.

Rankin, looking endearingly uneasy, came back for an encore version of “Red Planet,” accompanied solely by an eerie-sounding prerecorded collection of electronic noises. The remaining group members then came out to finish the night with an uproarious cover of the Hummingbirds’ “Alimony.” It was a great closing song for a memorable performance.

No visa issues, no auto burglary, not even an early workweek hangover — pretty good for a Monday night.

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