Words and Photography by Liz Garcia
The first night of Red Bull Sound Select’s 3 Days in Portland was a success. Toronto indie band, Alvvays, gave a shimmering performance for Portlanders, supported by The Courtneys, and local band, Candace, Thursday night at the Wonder Ballroom.
First up was lady trio, Candace, who are based in Portland, via Minneapolis. Their set of psychedelic, whitchgaze rock riled up the crowd. At one point Candace’s bassist called out to the crowd, “You’re not yelling at us, you’re not angry enough. Sometimes it’s good to be a little angry.” Sure enough, by the end of the set the crowd’s energy had livened up.
The Courtneys from Vancouver, B.C., followed to finished prepping the crowd for Alvvays. Their set included songs from their latest album, The Courtneys II, including their latest hit “Minnesota.” Their performance was great. It’s not often a band’s drummer is also the lead vocalist, as is Jen Twynne. It was incredible to see her beating away on the drums while she sang into the microphone. Unfortunately, due to an injury, bassist, Sydney Koke, was not present. In her place was Hugo, who the crowd enthusiastically welcomed and loved, especially his long, wavy locks. One crowd member commented loudly, “That hair, though.” Another comment from the crowd was, “We love Hugo and The Courtneys.” Twynne jokingly suggested starting a fan club for Hugo. When The Courtneys finished their set and exited the stage, the audience cheered the band and Hugo on their way out.
At last, the wait was over and Alvvays hit the stage. The last time the Toronto five piece was in town was for Pickathon last August and they were thrilled to be back again. Frontwoman, Molly Rankin, gladly admitted, “Every time I see Portland in an email, I say yes!” The crowd cheered to that.
Alvvays played favorites from their 2014 self-titled debut, including “Next of Kin” and “Atop a Cake,” along with lesser know tracks, such as “Dreams.” All throughout their performance they conversed with the crowd. Rankin took a moment to talk about the NBA playoffs. With the Toronto Raptors out, she declared to the crowd, “I’m really rooting for anyone but Golden State. You can quote me on that.” They then lightened the mood with fan favorite “Party Police.” After, Rankin said they had one more song to play.
As soon as the familiar soft strumming from the opening of their hit, “Archie, Marry Me,” played out the crowd went crazy, singing and swaying along. Seeing and hearing them perform this song took me back to my high school years. Their debut album became the soundtrack to my summer that year. Maybe it’s just a personal viewpoint, but that’s what’s great about Alvvays, they give off a dizzying carefree and content energy that spreads like wildfire. Even when playing one of their slower tracks such as, “The Agency Group,” you could see the audience floating on top of the clouds of bliss that is Alvvays’ music. When the song ended, Rankin thanked the crowd and walked off stage, the rest of Alvvays following behind.
Much to the joy of the audience, however, Alvvays returned to the stage to play one more upbeat song for everyone. The crowd took in every moment of it and, when it was over, Alvvays waved away their final goodbyes as the crowd applauded until the lights came back on.