Canadian indie-rock group the Dears has seen some dark days. Internal tensions nearly caused it to break up, but the band stuck it out and reemerged with this year’s Degeneration Street (Dangerbird), its fifth album. The group played Music Hall Of Williamsburg last night, accompanied by openers Rewards and the Rassle. Rewards started the night, building the crowd’s energy with a shoegaze-y, 1980s vibe. The sound was gentle, muted and no-frills, similar to a band like the XX. The Rassle followed with a similar sense of stillness to Rewards but with a more pop-rock edge. Though the group had fantastic energy—cowbell, too—its sound was slightly unbalanced and too blase.
The Dears provided an earth-shattering performance with a TV On The Radio-like flair. Its sound was an impeccably prepared mix of punk and eclectic avant-garde rock. Each song was a wave of emotion, a wave of intensity and fullness, sometimes slightly overbearing. The vocals were emotive, and the guitarists and drummer kept the sound rooted in rock. The thing that seemed to captivate the audience for the Dears was an innate sensitivity between the husband-and-wife duo of Murray Lightburn and Natalia Yanchak. If the band ever seemed detached onstage, the interplay between the two kept the Dears looking engaged, and it is likely this partnership that kept the group surviving.