After a summer devoid of live music experiences (and the cash necessary to enjoy them), I yearned to catch a concert upon returning to Michigan. Hearing wind of Alex G and Alvvays’ co-headlining tour stopping in Royal Oak, I spent the time between moving in and the FDOC scouring for cheap tickets on shady resale websites; more eagerly with the knowledge that Tanukichan – a household name on Teen Dreamz episodes – was opening.
I was immediately comforted by the distorted numbness of Tanukichan’s (unexpectedly short) set, as reverb-laden guitars and vibrating bass waves descended into the pit of the Royal Oak Music Theater. Van Loon’s ennui-tinged vocals complemented and held intimate dialogue with these instrumentals. The audience, however, did not seem entirely receptive to this dialogue: throughout the rather short set, they remained static and possessed a rather quizzical air – I couldn’t help but overhear a few people expressing confusion during songs. Thus, it made sense that the set would end after only five songs – much to my late-arrival dismay.
Thirty minutes later, under the cover of large video screens and an Enya song, Alvvays descended onto the stage. Expectedly, the majority of songs performed were from 2022’s Blue Rev, their triumphant return from hiatus. The range of this album amazed me, especially hearing it live: I just as easily went from bouncing along to jangly and energy-infused songs like Pharmacist and Very Online Guy to swaying gently to Tile by Tile. An infectious energy of mutual appreciation between the band members and the dancing crowds became obviously visible, as one could clearly see how ecstatic both parties were to be experiencing new Alvvays. The band commanded a diverse crowd, with 15-year-olds, obvious Tumblr veterans, and the occasional father dotted (and dancing) across the pit. I felt especially enthralled with their cheeky decision to “take it back to 2014” by playing songs off of their debut album, communing with a 13-year-old version of myself listening to “Marry Me, Archie” on a pair of chewed-up earbuds.
As Alvvays closed out with Lottery Noises and went backstage, I felt as if they had taken my energy along with them.
Unsurprisingly, I was fairly tired for the first half of Alex G’s set, drifting in and out through God Save The Animals. It was halfway through his set with Brick (and the subsequent mosh that formed), that I was quite literally thrown back into the show and realized the energy that he brought to the stage. Under the dimly-lit stage artwork of God Save The Animals, the second half of his set traversed a variety of albums, featuring earlier songs off Trick like Mary (which commanded a horde of teenagers singing along), and more contemporary ones like Blessing. I appreciated how Alex G remained engaged on a variety of instruments, frequently switching between playing the guitar and piano. Moreover, he remained deeply engaged with the crowd, frequently telling jokes and engaging in horseplay with his on-stage band members, creating a warm and intimate dynamic between those on and off stage. By the time he had announced the encore, though, I had found myself too tired to remain pressed against the barricade. Trudging towards the exit, however, I would suddenly regret this decision as I heard the opening of Gnaw play, with the crowd roaring into life and swallowing the spot that was once mine.