Alt-J (?) are one of the hottest up and coming acts on the scene right now, and proof (if proof was needed) of this came in the form of a queue around the block to get in to see them at Blind Tiger on Friday 11th May. Scores of disappointed fans were ushered onwards by security staff towards other venues. Scores more watched forlornly through the windows as Alt-J took to the stage, opening with the ethereal Tessellate: B-side to Bloodflood, the debut single released October 2011. Prefaced by the stunning a cappella track Ripe & Ruin, which demonstrates the bands incredible talent for close harmony, Tessellate immediately permeates the packed venue, inducing synchronized crowd swaying and scenes of unabashed public affection among couples (and maybe strangers). This is entirely the purpose of the track, as this haunting and melodic ode documents that flame of a physical intimacy between two lovers.
Further crowd-pleasers from this quirky, folk-rock outfit (to get too bogged down in categorizing Alt-J is to do them a massive disservice) include Matilda and Fitzpleasure. The former could easily be confused for a love song, though the real meaning behind the lyrics is far more sinister. Singer Joe Newman is note perfect in delivery, his delightfully distinctive tones meandering melancholic through the room, over delicate, finger-plucked guitar licks and regimented, snare-heavy drum patterns. By contrast, Fitzpleasure , B-side to Matilda – released earlier this year – is the epitome of what the boys refer to as folk-step. Dirty and guttural bass sections precede delicate and delay-doused guitar interludes, over which Joe’s signature wail hovers. Fitzpleasure has the crowd in raptures.
Alt-J surpass the hype: their live performance is tight, intimate, and evocative; their material is unique, delectably composed, and chock-full of pop hooks; and they effortlessly build audience rapport. It’s no wonder that Alt-J were one of the hot tips for the Great Escape, and with debut album An Awesome Wave set to be one of the albums of 2012, this could be Alt-J’s year.
By Asher Wren