In their return to Charlotte, Alvvays treated fans to an onslaught of their whimsical brand of shoegaze-y rock.

By Cameron Lee

May, 5, 2024

Photo: Wendy Hernandez / CLTure

It’s been nine long years since Charlotte’s heard the shimmering guitars and ethereal vocals of Molly Rankin and her Canadian dream pop band, Alvvays. The revered indie rockers performed for a sold-out crowd at The Underground on a drizzly Saturday night, and fans were treated to an onslaught of their whimsical brand of shoegaze-y rock.

Toronto indie rockets Alvvays returned to Charlotte for the first time since opening for The Decemberists in 2015. Photo: Wendy Hernandez / CLTure

The last time Alvvays performed in Charlotte, they were coming off their 2014 self-titled album and opening for The Decemberists. The debut was a lo-fi surfy jangle pop collection of post-adolescent songs featuring breakout hits like “Adult Diversion” and “Archie, Marry Me.” The album’s now widely considered an indie rock cult classic, along with their 2017 follow-up, Antisocialites. The releases solidified the band as darlings in the genre, with both albums short-listed for Canada’s prestigious Polaris Music Prize. 

Equally adored, but a bit more refined and evolved is their latest release, Blue Rev, produced by Shawn Everett, who has worked with everyone from Perfume Genius to The War on Drugs to Brittany Howard (Alabama Shakes). The album took nearly five years to complete, after some misfortunes (a theft, a flood, and of course, the pandemic), but there weren’t any setbacks Saturday night, as the Toronto quintet ripped through their 22-song set with ease and vigor. 

Molly Rankin of Alvvays performing in front of a sold-out crowd at The Underground Saturday night. Photo: Wendy Hernandez / CLTure

Before Alvvays hit the stage, Boston slowcore rockers, Horse Jumper of Love, performed for an already near-capacity crowd under a haze of purple and blue spotlights that fit the mood of their subdued slacker rock. Highlights from their set included the “Ugly Brunette” and “Orange Peeler” from their eponymous debut in 2017, and “Heartbreak Rules,” the title track of their latest album released through indie label, Run for Cover Records. 

The energy quickly turned from mellowed to mettlesome as bold letters spelling out “Alvvays” projected on stage as band members Kerri MacLellan (keys), Alec O’Hanley (guitar), Sheridan Riley (drums), and Lukas Cheung (bass) walked briskly to their respective instruments. As Rankin walked out last, there was palpable elation.

Alec O’Hanley, guitarist, songwriter, and founding member of Alvvays. Photo: Wendy Hernandez / CLTure

They kicked off with the distorted and spacey guitar of “Easy On Your Own?” from Blue Rev, before the somber but sugary lyrics Rankin has become renowned for: “Cause we’re always crawling, in monochromatic hallways / Dream we pull a one-eighty some day.” It was clear from the jump, from the echoing sounds swallowed by the packed crowd, it would be a night full of sparkling nostalgia-soaked rock. 

Following with the more uptempo jangle pop track, “After The Earthquake,” the stage and venue were washed in a sea of blue for the haunting break-up song, “In Undertow,” as many in the audience seemed awed by how their sound matched the rich quality of their studio albums. 

Molly Rankin of Juno Award-winning band, Alvvays, performing in Charlotte Saturday night at The Underground. Photo: Wendy Hernandez / CLTure

Rankin and company didn’t spend much time with small talk, outside of her apologizing to the “tiny folks” in the audience not being able to see her clearly due to the low stage, as she quipped, “I, too, am tiny.” 

From their more experimental synthy new wave tracks like “Very Online Guy” to the reverberant eerily poppy shoegaze number, “Dreams Tonite,” Alvvays displayed their proficiency in performing their genre-curving style of The Smiths-influenced English rock-meets-psychedelic pop. With mini cameras projecting Rankin and band members into a kaleidoscope of scenic images behind them, the evening did feel very much dream-like. Striking vocal harmonies contributed by MacLellan and the precise guitar notes and tonal shifts by O’Hanley, made it easy to believe that Blue Rev was recorded live, front-to-back with just two takes, a method introduced by the album’s producer, Everett. 

Alvvays rifled through a 22-song set Saturday night at The Underground with a majority of the tracks from their latest album, ‘Blue Rev,’ along with love for their self-titled debut and 2017’s ‘Antisocialites.’ Photo: Wendy Hernandez / CLTure

With the faint noise of birds chirping and O’Hanley strumming the opening notes of “Archie, Marry Me?,” the energy in the room crested, as for most of the night, the audience was swaying in an enchanted trance of sound and color. Arms up, with many hopping up and down for the chorus, “Hey, hey! Marry me, Archie / Hey, hey! Marry me, Archie,” for the song that launched the band out of relative obscurity in 2013. The charismatic tune about a young couple considering eloping, written by Rankin and O’Hanley, who were once romantically involved, has stood the test of time as an anthem for 20-somethings feeling societal and internal anxiety to marry. 

Immediately after “Archie,” the band wasted no time jumping right into “Pomeranian Spinster,” a rebellious and chaotic punk-influenced track about being more assertive and less conforming to the pressures of being “nice.” Quite a contrast from the post-adolescent innocence of “Archie.” Following “Lottery Noises,” the group quickly filed in a line and exited the stage to rapturous applause. Within a few minutes they returned with a three-song encore that featured the lead single to their most recent album, “Pharmacist,” and two b-side fan favorites: “Ones Who Love Me” and “Next of Kin.” 

Musically, on this night, Alvvays cemented themselves as humble giants in the realm of dreamy indie psychedelic-leaning pop rock. Hopefully, it won’t take another nine years before we get to see them again in the city. 


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“Easy on Your Own?”
“After the Earthquake”
“In Undertow”
“Many Mirrors”
“Very Online Guy”
“Adult Diversion”
“Not My Baby”
“Bored in Bristol”
“Tom Verlaine”
“Belinda Says”
“Tile by Tile”
“Dreams Tonite”
“Fourth Figure”
“Archie, Marry Me”
“Pomeranian Spinster”
“Lottery Noises”


“Ones Who Love You”
“Next of Kin”

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