Montreal, Canada’s The Dears, despite a two-decade history of writing compelling, intelligent songs, have remained one of indie rock’s best kept secrets. They seemed set to break out with 2003’s No Cities Left and again with 2006’s Gang of Losers, but ended up with more of a cult following, a status which they have kept since despite multiple Polaris Music Prize nominations and gigs opening for some of the biggest names in indie. After a longer-than-usual absence following 2011’s Degeneration Street, the band returned in late 2015 with Times Infinity Volume One and followed that up this year with its sequel Times Infinity Volume Two, a pair of albums recorded together back in 2014. The tour for this release finally saw them return to DC on Friday for the first time since 2009, where they played to a small but dedicated crowd for an early show at DC9.
The band opened with two tracks from the new record, “Taking It to the Grave” (a sort of duet between husband-and-wife band leaders guitarist Murray Lightburn and keyboardist Natalkia Yanchak) and “Of Fisticuffs.” From there the band took a tour through their back catalog, playing “You and I Are a Gang of Losers” and “Whites Only Party” from Gang of Losers, “Who Are You, Defenders of the Universe?” and “22: The Death of All Romance” from No Cities Left, “5 Chords” from Degeneration Street, and “Disclaimer” from 2008’s Missiles. Amidst those they visited Times Infinity Volume One for “Onward and Downward” and “I Used to Pray for the Heavens to Fall,” and to volume two for “1998.” They closed the main set with what is probably their best-known song, "Lost in the Plot" (also from No Cities Left).
Due to a later event in the venue the show had a strict 9pm cutoff, but before leaving Lightburn returned with one last solo acoustic performance of "Ticket to Immortality" (from Gang of Losers).
Canadian synth pop artist Lou Canon opened the show, playing songs from her recently released second album, Suspicious.