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Photos/Videos of Alt-J at Terminal 5

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

Check out the band performing “Buffalo” and “Fitzpleasure” to get a taste of what their show is like.

In this article…

In her review yesterday, Almas Korotana already detailed why Sunday's Alt-J/Hundred Waters show at Terminal 5 was amazing. Since I also was in attendance, I wanted to share a few things as well.

- The best way I can describe Alt-J's live show is that it is compelling. Their album An Awesome Wave is constructed as a compelling listen. The mysterious guitar sounds punctuated by thriving percussion and pounding synths can sound menacing one second and positively delightful the next. From song to song (and even section to section in individual songs), you are kept guessing and are completely thrown into this world. 

With the live show, that immersion is kicked up a notch. They play the album mostly from start to finish (mixing it up here and there), but the sequence of sounds is so transfixing. The show only lasted around an hour, but it didn't really feel like it flew by. Because all their music is fairly continuous, it all sounded like one glorious tune.

- I was surprised that lead singer Joe Newman didn't do the crowd work. That was handled by keyboardist Gus Unger-Hamilton. I guess I'm used to the frontman doing the talking, but the only thing I would have changed was to have a little more crowd work done by the whole band. With not much material, some more banter could have helped stretch the show out a little bit.

- Newman's vocals are, for the most part, indecipherable on the studio versions. It sounds like a lot of mumbling when you can't break through and catch a phrase here and there, but that only adds to the mystery that is Alt-J's sound.

- Here are a couple videos from the show. First is "Buffalo," the song that was recorded for the Silver Linings Playbook soundtrack.

Next is "Fitzpleasure," a song that gives a much better indication of what an Alt-J show is like when they get you into a groove.

- The lighting really took the show to a new level. From the spotlights to the rapidly flashing floodlights to the light-up scenery in the background, the show was an audio and visual treat.

- Newman and Unger-Hamilton's a capella cover of "A Real Hero" was stunning.

- I liked Hundred Waters, but wasn't in love with them. At times, it sounded like they were trying to do a bit too much. Too many sounds mashed up, too many beat changes, etc. But most of the set was really enjoyable, especially when they pulled things back a bit and didn't over-think things. Singer Nicole Miglis has a kind, familiar voice that hangs out in the upper register and often goes into a nice falsetto. I think this band is on the right track, and their atmospheric music definitely set the stage for Alt-J.

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