Words by Audra Tracy | Photo by Jeremy Gordon

I‘m going to be honest. This review was basically already written in my head before I even stepped foot inside the Hammerstein Ballroom last night. Alt-J, the English indie rockers with a quickly-multiplying cult following were finally playing a space in NYC that was equipped to do their sexy and mysterious sound justice. This show had the potential to be so good that, had I missed it, I would be doomed to spend the next few weeks/months repenting for my poor life choices.

As the house lights dimmed on the sold-out gig, fans raised hundreds of fingers in the air above the dancefloor, forming mini-triangles in tribute to the signature logo of the night’s headliners. Gwil Sainsbury [guitar/bass], Joe Newman [guitar/vocals], Gus Unger-Hamilton [keyboards], and Thom Green [drums] took the stage at 9:15 sharp, opening their set with the haunting first track off their debut LP An Awesome Wave, simply titled ‘Intro’.

Here’s the thing about Alt-J songs. There are so many different things going on at once that even someone who calls herself an Editor in Chief is left scratching her head when asked to classify what’s coming through the speakers. (Further mocking my efforts to describe the quartet’s sound, the ‘Influences’ field on their Facebook profile reads only ‘Haha’.)

What I can say is that their songs are beautifully schizophrenic. Dashing from synth-pop to folk rock to, dare I say it, dubstep, tracks from their only LP were delivered precisely and cohesively during their 70 minute performance. From the deliciously dark ‘Bloodfood’ and ‘Taro’ to the sweetly upbeat ‘Something Good’ and ‘Dissolve Me’ to the heart-melting ‘Handmade’,  New Yorkers seemed blissfully wrapped up in each of the tune’s mesmerizing layers.

Alt-J’s style may not be for everyone, but as the boys from Leeds put it last night, the show was ‘bloody lovely’.


TheWaster.com | New York City