Having devoted their last two Denver experiences to selling out the Fillmore, it is no surprise that alt-j would take the lunge to new heights, literally, climbing to the stage of Red Rocks. After debuting An Awesome Wave in 2012, these Englishmen attracted the ears of indie-folk fans around the globe. With a flair for writing rocking music paired with catchy lyrics, it does not seem that the award winning quartet will be going anywhere but up.
Even as thrilling as it is to be sitting in the stands prior to a show as excite-inducing as alt-j, this show had even more to offer. With TV on the Radio as the opener, plenty of seats were full just as the doors to the venue started to open. Although from our side of the pond, one could argue that TVOTR has had equivocal success to alt-j, just depending on what style of tune you are more prone to drool over. With a basic set-up, the band sported some fairly eclectic gear. Beehive dreads rocked atop the head of Jaleel, the drummer, and clear-rimmed glasses on Tunde, the lead singer, lit up at the frames along with the lights of the stage. The guys vibrated the audience to tracks like “DLZ” and put the Colorado Sun to bed along with their set to an appropriate title, “Staring at the Sun.” And with that, the crowd prepared for their headliner.
After a hefty break to prepare for the main attraction, alt-j raced to face the thousands of people screaming for them. With humbled expressions and skin-tight pants, the boys picked up their instruments and started the show off timidly, to “Hunger of the Pine” as blue lights flashed to the rhythm behind them. They sped things up quickly though, eagerly jumping to “Fitzpleasure” without a minute in between. The show was a decadent swirl of both albums, although the mixture ran slightly heavy on An Awesome Wave, which was superb. “Something Good,” was passed on to “Left Hand Free,” but then spurted into “Dissolve Me,” a song in which caused the great Joe Newman to tenderly wipe sweat from his brow. Then “Matilda,” and “Bloodflood,” before (of course) “Bloodflood Pt. 2.” Even an interlude or two made way on to the stage with them, “Guitar” and “Ripe and Run” specifically.
As “Tessellate” jammed over the ridiculously sold out show, thousands of hands were raised up and held together in the shape of triangles, which was of course a homage to a certain favored shape. “Every Other Freckle” popped the crowd back from a sway, just in time for a “Taro” that made the entire crowd lose themselves in the breakdowns. The wall of LED lighting as the back of the stage elucidated each fan’s movement through the whistles of “Warm Foothills” and the flashed green streaks of luminosity in unison to the beat of “Gospel of John Hurt,” after which, the members thanked Denver for their evening and abandoned the stage.
They returned for an Encore and performed a cover of “Lovely Day.” They then played a bone chilling “Nara,” which was accompanied by the brighter, “Leaving Nara.” Alas, at the one more song mark, one could certainly guess which direction things were going in now. With a soft and humble beginning, the song rose with every note, as the ensemble swiftly carried the spectators into a jolting but rewarding vociferous “DA, DA, DA, DA,” from the favorite track, “Breezeblocks.”
The nearly full moon shone brightly above a blackened city sky, a sky as high as the hopes of the fans walking to their cars, wishing for a new album, or another tour, or maybe just to avoid the hangover that will be fighting them in the morning.