A SiriusXM Exclusive Subscriber Event
A LocalBozo.com Concert Review
The Studio at Webster Hall, New York, NY
December 13, 2013
Concert Review: Alt-J at The Studio at Webster Hall
It’s truly been a breakthrough year for English rock foursome alt-J, who spent much of 2013 on the road in support of their debut album “An Awesome Wave,” released in the spring of 2012. The band trekked through New York City on several occasions over the past year, including a stop at the 2013 Governor’s Ball and a sold out headlining show at Central Park’s Rumsey Playfield back in September. Friday night however, the band was enticed to perform at a more intimate setting as part of SiriusXM‘s exclusive subscriber event series inside of The Studio at Webster Hall, where just a few hundred fortunate fans were able to enjoy an hour long look at a band in the midst of great ascension.
In recent months, SiriusXM has made a habit of bringing its subscribers some phenomenal events and Friday night’s show was no different. Streaming live on the satellite radio’s SiriusXMU channel, an early and avid supporter of the band’s music, the group casually strode out to the small stage with the show slated to begin at 9pm. After briefly kicking things off with their album “Intro,” alt-J launched right into “Fitzpleasure” which immediately put the band’s melodic harmonizing out there for all to see. The catchy vocals, perhaps best described as tribal chants brought the entire standing room audience out of a collective stance and forced them to dance about in place. But much of the show that followed would slow down to a more relaxed pace, allowing each instrument from the meticulously strummed guitar parts to the lightly tapped drum beats to be fully on display.
To describe singer Joe Newman‘s vocals as unique would be a bit misleading. In fact, its the singer’s voice that makes the collective of alt-J so distinctive. Rarely does his voice raise or does it seem all that strained- but its high pitch and ability to blend so seamlessly with his surrounding musicians makes the band’s show such a light, feel good experience. Tracks like “Bloodflood” and “Something Good” for instance, were indicative of such identifiable traits. While the audience was certainly moving their bodies throughout the show, the energy level inside the room hardly reached a frenzy- a welcomed change of pace to the typically raucous live shows held inside The Studio’s limited space. “Tesselate” and “Dissolve Me” were slow numbers, calculated and plodding, while the slightly faster “Matilda” was beautiful, memorably haunting along with the crowd’s backing vocals behind Newman.
The bluesy and infectious “Breezeblocks” fittingly closed the show, which eschewed an encore in the essence of time- not a problem for the fans in the house who were unwilling to take their eyes off of the band for even a brief moment. Each of drummer Thom Green‘s four in a row drum rattles livened up the live crowd, pleasantly finding another of the band’s faster songs to dance to. The song’s lyrics echoed the sentiment of the alt-J fans in the house as “Please don’t go / I love you so, I love you so” was repeated countless times as the show drew to a close. And while the band’s most recent stop in New York City had reached its conclusion, there was ample time to hear the special re-run on SiriusXM all weekend long.