Save Our Stages: The National with Alvvays
at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, 9/2/19

During this period of historic uncertainty, the fight for the survival of our independent record stores is directly mirrored by the dark stages of our local independent theatres, clubs, and performance spaces which have been shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been cited as well that 90% of these concert venues may never, ever return.

Enter the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) whose #SaveOurStages campaign has provided a spotlight on this perilous predicament with a unique mission to “preserve and nurture the ecosystem of independent live music venues and promoters throughout the United States.” Without help from Congress the predictions are indeed quite dire and TVD encourages you support the S. 3814/H.R. 7481, the RESTART Act, by telling your legislators to save independent music venues via the form that can be filled out and forwarded right here.

This week and next we’ll be turning our own spotlight onto previous live concert coverage as a reminder of the need to preserve the vitality of live music venues across the country—and indeed across the globe—and while we’re at it to celebrate the work of the fine photographers and writers at TVD who are all itching to get back into the pit. 

PHOTOS: JULIA LOFSTRAND | Alvvays is an indie dream pop band based in Toronto and fronted by the enigmatic Molly Rankin. I wasn’t too familiar with Alvvays’ music prior to the show, however Antisocialist and Alvvays, their two recorded albums to date, have produced a substantial amount of catchy music with an even stronger live presence.

In an interview with She Shreds magazine, Rankin said that for both albums she had listened to a lot of The B-52’s, Dolly Mixture, Felt, and The Cocteau Twins—the combination morphing into something familiar yet uniquely their own. Rankin’s voice is airy, the vocals are substantive, and for me, the band feels like an amalgam of post-punk and pop. It’s hard to capture how good this band is live and they definitely won me over. It’s no small accomplishment to keep a crowd engaged before the band they came to see, but Alvvays stood on their own here, and by doing so really set the stage.

By the time the band changeover was finished, every empty seat was filled at the Greek Theater, the smaller sister venue to the The Hollywood Bowl which is nestled inside Griffith park. It’s a venue within a forest—a respite from the chaos of the city and a beloved summer venue among Los Angelians.

This was my fifth time seeing The National here in Los Angeles and I am not alone in frequency—I heard one guy say this was his 57th National show. This band has a cult following much like the traveling fans of Phish and Dave Matthews Band, and despite forming in Cincinnati this show felt like a homecoming for them. I am not sure if it was the intimacy of the venue or the giant spruce trees looming around us, or the unusual amount of time that lead singer Matt Berninger spent in the crowd, but it was apparent that we all felt connected and the vibe was just right.

When a band has recorded nine studio albums since 2001, there are a tremendous amount of songs to play, and it’s natural for every fan, including myself, to want to hear their personal favorites. But like most evolving artists who thrive on their newer material, The National focused the majority of their set on their latest album, I Am Easy to Find, joined by Kate Stables from This Is The Kit and Canadian singer/songwriter Hannah Georgas on vocals, and nothing felt amiss. The entire Greek Theater was on its feet for this 26-song set, and when “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks,” the last song of the encore was played, the crowd alone sang the song from start to finish acapella.

Rarely can a band stay relevant for this long and produce music that makes you feel like you are a part of some greater untapped emotion. (As for the fan who made this his 57th show, I get you.) The National continue this American leg of their world tour with Alvvays until September 11, concluding in Houston, Texas where they will pick up supporting acts Jenny Lewis and Phoebe Bridgers.

ALVVAYS

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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