arts   |   music

Alvvays, Big Thief, Frankie Rose float and dream at Bluebird Nightclub


Molly Rankin, lead vocalist and rhythm guitar for the band Alvvays, sings “In Undertow” off the band’s album, "Antisocialites." Alvvays played Saturday, April 28, at the Bluebird Nightclub.  Matt Begala Buy Photos

During Big Thief's set, guitarist and vocalist Adrianne Lenker wanted to dim the lights.

"Could we have the lights lower up here?" she asked. "Please and thank you."

The lights dimmed. During the band's next song, they dimmed more. Then, they brightened and went out completely before returning to a dim state for the rest of the performance.

In parallel, the music onstage experienced shifts between nostalgia, poignancy and youthful energy, as Canadian pop band Alvvays performed Saturday evening at the Bluebird Nightclub with Big Thief and Frankie Rose.

Frankie Rose opened the show with indie pop and dreamy, echoing vocals.

“Wasting our time on fiction and lies,” Rose sang in her song "Know Me." “It’s a crime to make yourself cry.” 

During Big Thief’s set, Lenker said how pleased she was to be in Bloomington.

“It’s good to be in the place I was born in,” Lenker said. “I lived here until I was four. Glad I get the chance to continue to visit.”

Big Thief used sounds from genres including as indie rock, pop and folk. With a chugging bass drum and a lightly-distorted guitar, “Shark Smile” recounted the story of two lovers kissing on a drive in rural Iowa. 

“Evelyn’s kiss was oxygen,” Lenker sang. “I leaned over to take it in, as we went howling through the edge of south Des Moines.”

Members of Big Thief prepare for their set Saturday, April 28, at the Bluebird Nightclub. Big Thief opened for Alvvays.  Matt Begala Buy Photos

Other songs, such as “Mythological Beauty,” had clean, shimmering riffs and a mellow pace. Lenker sang and bobbed up and down, her shoulder-length hair swinging across her eyes and cheeks. 

“You have a mythological beauty, you have the eye of someone I have seen, outside of ordinary situations, even outside of dreams,” Lenker sang.

Before playing “Masterpiece,” Lenker addressed the crowd.

“This is dedicated to everyone,” Lenker said.

Big Thief’s guitar solos were atmospheric and psychedelic walls of distortion and feedback. At times, Lenker leaned next to her amplifier and shoved her fingers across her guitar strings.

Guitarist Buck Meek, who performed his solo project April 2 at the Bishop, nodded and kept the rhythm going when he wasn't performing a solo.

As Alvvays lead singer Molly Rankin walked onstage, she tucked her platinum blonde hair behind her ear. She wore a black-and-white striped shirt and black pants, looking similar to a football referee. 

The band’s youthful, nostalgia-driven guitars and synth matched the deep-hued blue, red and white flashing lights behind the band. The word “Drum” was printed on drummer Sheridan Riley’s bass drum. Keyboard player Kerri MacLellan wore a blue sweater with red and yellow stripes and blocks and played on a keyboard from the 1970s.

Alvvays played its dream-driven pop-rock anthem, “In Undertow,” from its 2017 album  “Antisocialites.” Angelic blue and white lights lit from behind as MacLellan played a synthesized keyboard intro. The vocals reverberated and the bass guitar thrummed.

“You find a wave and try to hold on for as long as you can,” Rankin sang. “You made a mistake you’d like to erase and I understand.”

At times, the screen behind the band displayed television static. At other times, lights and colors moved, exploded and waned with the music.

Between songs, Rankin asked about the outcome of the Boston Celtics basketball game. At another point, she expressed her surprise at the amount of vape pens in the audience.

“I didn’t have anyone in my class who had a vape,” Rankin said. “All these cool guys have vapes.”

Throughout the high-energy set, band members danced and swayed in a mellow fashion, in line with the band’s suburbia-youth image, heard in songs such as “Archie, Marry Me.”  

“We spend our days locked in a room, content inside a bubble,” Rankin sang. “In the nighttime we go out and scour the streets for trouble.”

Long after the sun set outside the doors of the Bluebird, Alvvays performed “Party Police." A video of a wavering white flag that read "Alvvays" appeared on the screen behind them.

“You don’t have to leave, you could just stay here with me,” Rankin sang. “Forget all the party police, we can find comfort in debauchery.”

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