The name originates from the band’s love of triangles, and apparently if you press the Alt key and ‘J’ on your Mac the delta sign (∆) pops up, though I’ll have to take their word for it since I’m on a PC. It is that choice of name which may cause you to automatically dismiss Alt-J (hipsters love their triangles) yet Alt-J manage to surpass this with an almost genre-less blend of drum pulses and an array of off-centre instruments, topped off with possibly one of the most unique voices around at the moment.
Originally meeting in Leeds, Alt-J are no stranger to the city and are welcomed by a sea of Live at Leeds-goers, all awaiting on the edge of their pews. The band starts slowly and edge into ‘Tessellate’, causing the rows of people to nod in motion almost like a hypnotised cult.
The beauty of Alt-J is lead singer Joe Newman’s distinctive vocals, reminiscent of those of Wild Beasts frontman Hayden Thorpe’s. The problem in the Holy Trinity Church is that they’re far too quiet, often being overpowered by the drums, tambourines, guitar, cow bells, xylophones and any other instruments you care to think of (as long as it’s not bass).
Crowd favourites Breezeblocks and Matilda make the crowd squeal and punch the air as they rise from their pews and writhe around resembling a scene from Sister Act. The songs ring out like lullabies through the compressed church air atmosphere, inducing two guys in front of me to catch up on their sleep – unless they were busy preying of course.
Newman announces that “It’s fantastic to be back playing in Leeds,” and launches straight into highlight ‘Fitzpleasure’ to close the show – a song that shows their pop-capabilities with exciting, rumbling synths and eerie vocals. It left you wishing that the rest of their songs used more of this bass-heavy material, who knows, those two guys might never have fallen asleep.
Listen to ‘Alt-J – Fitzpleasure’