(L–R) Thom Green, Joe Newman, Gus Unger-Hamilton of Alt-J “performed flawlessly for nearly two hours as the entire room sang each word with the band.” Photo: Gabriel Green
Though The Complex isn’t my favorite venue to see a show at—mostly because of the acoustics and the fact that it draws a young and rowdy crowd—I’ll go when a good band stops by, which happens quite often at that venue. Monday’s Alt-J show was no exception, as the English band delivered a fantastic performance to a sold-out crowd—most of the stops on their current tour are. They came straight from Las Vegas where they performed at this year’s Life Is Beautiful Festival that featured one of the best lineups I’ve seen this year (nearly better than Coachella). As one of the best indie bands around, I expected a lot from their show and luckily wasn’t disappointed in the least bit.
As I walked through the door, Lovelife was going strong on the Rockwell stage as the large room filled up quickly. The band was the usual punk rock four-man group that all wore the usual skinny jean/zip-up hoodie look that those sorts of bands do. Judging by the crowd I would assume the band was well-liked, but I’m not a huge fan of the whiny pop/punk genre (can I call it emo, or is that too MySpace-era?). As I dodged the groups of girls taking selfies—and there were a lot of them—I was imagining in my head that I was in the concert scene of a romantic teen melodrama where a girl in the crowd is dating the lead singer and she swoons as he sings songs about her. If you’ve ever seen If I Stay or any movie about a teen girl who falls in love with the guy in the band, you can probably picture the exact type of scene I’m describing. They’re the kind of band I would imagine my younger sister would enjoy, but their fanbase probably isn’t much older than 18.
Once Lovelife left the stage, there was a 45-minute gap between sets where the crowd got a little too rowdy. I’m not sure whether or not people think trying to shove their way to the front of a tightly packed crowd is OK, but it’s a really quick way to make a lot of people angry. As boredom set in, the musicless mosh pit began and the entire crowd started pushing one another back and forth. If I were a bouncer, I would kick out every person that violently decided to shove their way to the front of the crowd, but unfortunately, all I can do is show them my middle finger, glare as if my eyes were daggers and then angrily tweet about it later on.
Around 9:30 p.m., Alt-J finally took the stage, and the room was packed as tight as it possibly could have been. The ear-splitting roar that filled the room when the four-man group took the stage made it clear that the band is no longer indie music’s best kept secret—they’re full-blown stars among Urban Outfitter customers now. The group opened with their hit song “Fitzpleasure
” as streams of white lasers accompanied by red LED panels illuminated the room from behind them. The combination of lighting paired with perfectly on point-instrumentals, and the iconic voice of Joe Newman left me in chills. Pausing only to switch instruments, compliment a member of the crowd, or thank everyone for coming, the band performed flawlessly for nearly two hours as the entire room sang each word with the band. While the band played, graphics were displayed on the strips of LED panels that set behind them. The most memorable of the displays were different camera angles of a burning forest, with the dying trees silhouetted against the flames. The LED show was accompanied by intense orange stage lighting that made the whole room appear to be on fire. The group performed nearly every single one of their more popular songs like “Tessellate
,” “Dissolve Me
” and a few singles from their newly released album, This Is All Yours, which is available for purchase now on iTunes as well as the band’s website
Had the crowd not been so focused on getting as close to the front as they possibly could, the show would have been a lot more enjoyable. Alt-J’s performance creates an ambience that is both enchanting and entertaining as their funky concoction of music is paired beautifully with a great lighting experience. This isn’t a show that’s going to make you jump up and scream, but it will leave you wanting to go home and listen to the band before bed. Not every concert is meant to be a raging dance party, and I would have gladly sat and enjoyed the sweet sounds of Alt-J from the comfort of a lawn chair at Red Butte over the summer.