On Halloween this year, art-rock trio alt-J
played a sold-out show at the Fillmore in Philadelphia. Their most recent record, Relaxer
, was released this past June and the band has been touring in support of the record ever since. With their prudent use of instrumentals, lush soundscapes, and Joe's nasally, high-pitched croon, alt-J has created a signature sound across their three albums. The show, like alt-J songs themselves, ebbed and flowed in intensity, with some songs that particularly stood out. Here were our top 5 favorites, as performed live on Tuesday.
Everyone's favorite alt-J song from 2012 is still great live, but maybe you've heard it one too many times, or maybe the audience singing along at peak drunk-levels is just getting on your nerves a little bit. It's great, but not the best.
Taro's stunning vocal harmonies build up to the infectious chorus featuring a mandolin-sounding instrument. The song's complexities are underscored by the band's elaborate lighting setup, but when the chorus comes around there's no mandolin to be found, just Gus pressing a button on the keyboard.
3. "Every Other Freckle"
Three and a half minutes of pure perfection. Some thick bass lines and cowbell bring us through the first three minutes, and then the last thirty seconds of "I want every other freckle I want every other freckle I want every other freckle" has every sexy cat, ghost, skeleton, and even the fully dressed hot dog trying to sing along to the tongue-twister.
A single spotlight illuminates alt-J lead singer/guitarist Joe Newman. As the instrumentals kick in, so do the rest of the lights. Alt-J's tall lighting sticks take a break from giving us all seizures and create a galaxy of stars behind the band.
The 6 minute song from Relaxer
brings a hush over the crowd. A song like Adeline, complete with layers and layers of sound, is ethereal live. An unexpected favorite of their set, the track benefits from the incredible light show and the high quality sound of venue speakers.
*Bonus* The Simpsons Theme
It's Halloween, and alt-J has dressed up themselves and their entire crew as the Simpsons
. Not just Maggie, Homer, and Lisa, but Groundskeeper Willie (Joe), Milhouse (Gus), and all of Springfield Elementary. Before leaving the stage for good, they pipe a strange harpsichord version of the Simpsons' theme over the venue speakers and line up in their costumes and yellow face paint. Ay caramba!?
Check out photos from the show here.
Watch alt-J at The Cutting Room: