Few bands skyrocket into notoriety the way that English indie-band Alt-J has since the May 2012 release of their first album, An Awesome Wave. If you didn’t know who they were before you went to see their show, you would probably think Alt-J was a well-established band who had been touring for years, not a breakthrough group promoting their debut album.
In April 2013, Alt-J played a sold-out show at the Bluebird Theater in Denver to a crowd of 550 people. Thursday night, less than six months later, the quartet performed at Fillmore Auditorium to a sold-out crowd more than five times that size, with audience members singing along to every song. Needless to say, it isn’t exactly standard for a band to experience that type of rapid success. These guys must be on to something special.
The crowd roared with excitement as the lights in the Fillmore dimmed and the band walked out to club-hit “Rack City” by Tyga. Joe Newman (vocals), Gwil Sainsbury (bass), Thom Green (drums) and Gus Unger-Hamilton (keyboards, backing vocals) took their spots, and the genre-defying show began.
The band wasted no time, playing their majorly popular song “Fitzpleasure” just minutes into the show. As they moved through their setlist, it became clear that Alt-J’s sound is genuinely unique and unhampered, a distinct fusion of influence from all realms of music. Audience members seemed hypnotized as Joe Newman crooned melodically over the keyboard on “Tessellate,” before the band kicked in with fiery guitar grooves, hard-hitting drums and electronic beats on “Dissolve Me” and “Taro.”
“It’s great to be back here in Denver,” keyboardist Gus Unger-Hamilton said as he thanked the crowd for their energy and support. Fans held up their hands in the shapes of triangles –the band’s symbol– cheering, dancing and singing along to “Ms” and “Breezeblocks” as the night came to a close.
Whether intentional or not, their album name, An Awesome Wave, seems to explain Alt- J’s indescribable sound almost perfectly. Thursday night at the Fillmore, Alt-J transcended any genre of music that already exists, taking their audience on an awesome wave of sound that you just want to keep riding.