This past Friday (March 23) British band ∆ (Alt-J) played at Webster Hall, their first of two sold out shows in NYC this weekend.
The show was opened by the sprightly electronic sounds of Hundred Waters, an indie-pop five-piece who signed to Skrillex’s OWSLA label last year. They set the mood for the evening with light, free-flowing ethereal tones and sharp vocals. Despite the seeming shapelessness of their music, their pastorally influenced performance was solid and synergetic, providing appropriate and comforting coos from their female vocalists in preparation for a wholly masculine main act.
Close to 9:30 p.m., Alt-J’s four backlit silhouettes took the stage to warm applause from the full-bodied audience, launching directly into their album, An Awesome Wave, with its first track "Intro." The audience was intimate and unadulterated, without the energetic conflicts between self proclaimed purists and alleged band-wagoners.
By "Something Good" (four songs in), it was made clear that we were there for good reason; their vocals had been accurately captured in their recordings and did not once stray from their careful curating. With modest interaction with the audience, the band were serenely shaped against warmly colored lights and An Awesome Wave’s album cover art, which served as their backdrop.
The deep bass charged behind "Fitzpleasure" in contrast with scattered bars of layered acapella harmonies illuminated their unique musical import as an electronic renascence, venturing into a medieval folk essence that never existed in American history. In conjunction with their cryptic lyrics and eclectic melodies, the set was a trip through time and space, subtly encased in an hour’s timeframe.
Though the set was shorter than hoped for, the audience was appeased with an encore that included "Handmade," which does not appear on their album. The four-piece’s staggering vocals held their weight against the intricate synergy of their instruments through tropical melodies, tribal beats and blues guitar riffs to create a sound so whole and natural that it resonated with the cracks in their backdrop’s landscape.
Their cryptic lyrics and languid tones vibrated melodically through "Bloodflood," while their harried hooks paired with glowing harmonies throughout were played with inspired intensity and were sung more sweetly than lullabies.
For those who were unable to get tickets to their show this month, there's still an opportunity to see them at NYC’s Governor’s Ball in June. Don’t forget to get your tickets here.