The crowd was sold from the start.
“SpaceCamp!” one person yelled out.
“I used to have one of those,” said another.
As the first band of the night, Alvvays, walked on the stage, the crowd cheered, in large part because of the SpaceCamp T-shirt that guitar player Alec O’Hanley was wearing.
The initial excitement didn’t fade once the band started to play, though. Alvvays, who have only recently released their first album, didn’t have the benefit of a catalogue full of recognizable songs, but were still able to engage the crowd with their fast tempo surf rock.
The Galaxie Barracks Tent wasn’t full at the start of their set, but by the time Alvvays finished, the area in front of the stage was starting to feel tight and crowded — the way any good show should feel.
Most of the fans were there for the night’s headliners, the Arkells, but before that Brooklyn’s Ikebe Shakedown (I know they are from Brooklyn because they mentioned it after every song) performed an enthusiastic set full of bongo, trumpet, saxophone and guitar solos.
By the time they were done, the crowd was feeling good and ready for the main act, so I went to the bar with my friend to get a couple of beers.
Along the way we saw enough friends and acquaintances to feel comfortable, but we mostly saw people from different demographics and generations that we didn’t know. Some people were talking about the shows they had seen the night before while others were excitedly listing off who they planned to see over the weekend. So when the Arkells finally came on stage and lead singer Max Kerman asked the crowd who was planning on calling in sick or not going to class, it was a unanimous answer.
The band started off with a few songs from their newest record, High Noon; Beginning the show with the album’s opening track, “Fake Money” and then going into the lead single, “Come to Light.”
Though much of the show was filled with songs off High Noon, the band went back and played songs from their previous albums as well, and they were greeted by fans who knew the words and sang along whenever they were asked to.
Just like with the previous two acts, the Arkells were able to excite not only with catchy melodies but also great musicianship. There was a playful stage presence that all the bands possessed that made it seem that they were having just as much fun as the crowd for which they were performing.
The Arkells had to get on a plane after the show; they played in their hometown of Hamilton, Ont. the next night. The music fans had places to go as well: home, or the bar or to another show, but for the few hours that everyone was in the tent there was that sense of togetherness and community that only happens this time of year in Fredericton.
When I got back to my apartment, my roommates asked how the show was. “Awesome,” I replied. “You should have come.”