British indie-rock band alt-J performed at the Main Street Armory in Rochester on Sept. 23. The four members consist of a drummer, two guitarists and a keyboardist. Together, they create an incredibly unique, fresh sound—one that is hard to imitate.
Alt-J has released two albums since forming in 2007. An Awesome Wave—alt-J’s debut album—came out in September 2012 in the United States. Their second album This Is All Yours, was released in September 2014.
Alt-J is a good first band for listeners who want to get into indie. Their albums are highly entertaining because they recount an entire story—starting from the very first song and ending with the last one. The concert drew a decent number of fans considering tickets were rather expensive and it was on a weeknight. The audience was almost entirely made up of college students from various schools in and around the Rochester area.
With a crowd of this particular demographic, the excitement and anticipation among audience members was tangible. Opening for alt-J was Brooklyn-based baroque-pop group San Fermin. Using many different instruments such as the trumpet, violin and baritone saxophone, San Fermin’s sound would be best described as orchestral rock. San Fermin’s high-energy performance set the mood for the show, serving as the perfect opener for alt-J.
As soon as alt-J stepped onstage to open with their newer song “Every Other Freckle,” the crowd went wild. Colored lights blended together—illuminating the stage during the performance and creating a very fitting visual for the music. Each song had a different color scheme. In addition, the screens in the background produced attention-grabbing, abstract designs.
Alt-J performed a mix of both new and old songs, guaranteeing that fans of either one of their albums would be satisfied. The set list included songs like “Hunger of the Pine,” “Tessellate,” “Fitzpleasure,” “Taro,” “Left Hand Free” and “Matilda.”
Alt-J finished their set with the song “Breezeblocks,” ending the show with an impalpable amount of energy—no doubt because the fans had been begging all night to hear it. The show couldn’t have had a more climactic ending with the crowd belting out every lyric of the song.
While the vocals sounded nearly identical to the recordings, the band managed to have a very different sound live. With none of their music editing software onstage, alt-J sounded more acoustic and less electronic. Seeing them live was also a deliberate reminder that they only use three different instruments in their music—a fact that is mind-blowing given the intangible, overcomplicated sound they are able to produce with it.
Considering their incredible talent, alt-J gave off a vibe of pure modesty during the show. They were a very soft-spoken band, hardly saying anything more than necessary between songs. This aura was unsurprising, however, since they like to remain hidden from the public.
After the show was over, the band continued to excite the audience by throwing memorabilia into the crowd like drumsticks, guitar picks, shirts and the set list. Far from the type of band that goes crowd surfing, alt-J gave a simple, yet compelling performance—one that will be remembered for years to come by attendees.