Another in a spate of autumn gigs, and back to the Kaz again for Real Estate from New Jersey, with very welcome support from Canadian band Alvvays. This was only the second night of their UK tour and there was a queue outside to get in, with the venue already busy by 8.15pm when Alvvays were due to come on. There was fortunately enough time to visit the bar (for a pint of Liverpool Organic’s Josephine Butler) before finding a good central spec near the front.
Canucks Alvvays (annoying band name alert; just pronounced Always) started things off, playing all bar one track off their eponymous debut album, and proving to be the missing link between the shambling sounds of C86 and the more modern bands with those influences such as Beach House, Veronica Falls and Summer Camp.
Molly Rankin sung and played guitar, with Kerri MacLellan on keyboards, looking like an archetypal geek in an American high school sitcom. MacLellan and guitarist Alec O’Hanley were both in the typical Glaswegian indie uniform of striped tops. Brian ‘Ginger’ Murphy played a Höfner violin bass, à la Macca, while the band was completed by drummer Phil MacIsaac.
“Atop A Cake” got proceedings underway, with the slow “Ones Who Love You” followed by my favourite number, “Next Of Kin”. “The Agency Group” was next, before they played the only song not to be off the album, one that sounded familiar but I couldn’t place, with its hints of The Flatmates.
“Dives” was introduced as a waltz, which it kind of is, before the farty synths (that’s a technical muso term, honest) of “Party Police”. They ended with “Adult Diversion” and then the single off the album, “Archie, Marry Me”, with a frisson of feedback. The crowd greeted them pretty rapturously, which was no less than they deserved.
The Organic on tap was off when I went back to the bar, so I settled for a bottle of BrewDog’s Punk IPA before resuming my place for Real Estate, who were preceded by some Clinic tunes (as on my last visit to the Kaz, the resident DJ is clearly a big fan), leading bassist Alex Bleeker to proclaim them to be “the most famous band to come from the legendary Liverpool”!
Lead singer and guitarist Martin Courtney has an air of Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard about him, featuring as the bespectacled centre of the geekily indie trio at the front of the stage, flanked by the check-shirted Matt Mondanile, also on guitar, and the blading pate of Bleeker.
The rest of the band are drummer Jackson Pollis, with towels strategically muffling his sound, and Matt Kallman on keys. Their self-proclaimed influence from The Feelies was immediately obvious in both their look and sound, which clearly means that you can hear elements of Galaxie 500 and the Velvets in there too, as well as some hints of 80’s Flying Nun bands.
The first song they played was the only one to be sung by Bleeker, “Wonder Years” off their second album “Days”. They then hit the new album hard, this year’s “Atlas”, with the dreamy “Past Lives” followed by “Crime”, which was clearly a fan favourite, and then the chiming guitar of “Primitive”, with its subtle keyboard washes.
They then dug into the back catalogue, with ”Easy”, the opener from second album, and then the downbeat “Surburban Dogs” from their eponymous debut. “All The Same” from their sophomore release was followed by the lovely pealing guitar runs of “Beach Comber” from their first album, another crowd-pleaser.
It was then back to the new album for the gorgeous “Talking Backwards” and “The Bend”, before “Green Aisles” off the second album. They ended with the instrumental “April’s Song” from “Atlas” and that album’s opening track, “Had To Hear”.
A brief pause ensued (enough time to visit the loo and return to a different, also decent, spec!) before they returned to play two more off the “Days” album, “Out Of Tune” and finally the big ‘oh-oh’s’ of “It’s Real”. The only disappointment in the set was that they didn’t play the beautiful “Horizon” off the new release, but all in all it was a well-received gig, both by me and the rest of the healthy crowd.
In honour of the somewhat twee support act, I went for my red Track & Field t-shirt. The venue was too packed for me to spot any other band shirts at all, not helped by the miserable weather than meant most people had their coats still on.