alt-j live review

Seeing Blue: alt-J Live Review w/ San Fermin |Hard Rock Live Orlando | September 30, 2015

by • October 8, 2015

I fell into a trance from the moment alt-J took the stage and stayed mesmerized until their very last note. Not because of the pot cookies I may or may not have eaten before the show, but because all four of these musicians are masters at their unique craft and it’s impossible to take your eyes off them.

To be honest, I haven’t had much luck seeing alt-J perform live. Their first Florida show at House of Blues a few years back was canceled, and I couldn’t make it to their festival performance in Tampa last year. With this track record, I was in dying of anticipation waiting for them to come back around. I had seen Kraftwerk in Miami the night before alt-J’s return, so by the time I finally made it back to Orlando, I was completely exhausted, and even contemplated not going to the show for a split second. Staying home would have been one of the biggest mistakes of my life.

I arrived at Hard Rock Live Orlando minutes into opener San Fermin’s set. The video below was so impressive; it gave me the extra push I needed to get my ass in gear and make it to the venue on time. San Fermin’s unique lineup featured both a male and a female vocalist, a violinist, and a two-piece horn section. Their performance didn’t feel like an opener, they had the energy of a headliner playing to a sold-out Madison Square Garden. This Brooklyn-based band released their sophomore album, Jackrabbit, earlier this year, so expect to hear more from these guys soon. I can’t wait until their next show because their thirty-minute set was way too short.

On to the main event. In addition to their expert musicianship, alt-J’s lighting rivals some of the best electronic acts I have ever seen (and I had seen Kraftwerk the previous night). Every little flash of light was carefully planned and fit perfectly with their music. The next ninety-minutes seemed to be over in an instant as alt-J played every song I wanted to hear. Songs like “Matilda”, “Tessellate” and, the Alien-inspired, “The Gospel of John Hurt” were highlights of the night.

In early September, I was invited to a screening of the concert film, Artists Den Presents : alt-J. Seeing this wonderfully shot film on the big screen gave me a new appreciation of the brilliance of alt-J’s drummer, Thom Green. The sounds this guy is able to produce without any cymbals are completely unreal. His drum kit was set up on the right side of the stage facing the center, so I made sure to get the perfect spot to see him in action. He definitely didn’t disappoint, slamming beers during songs and not even missing a beat. His unique style is a huge part of alt-J’s signature sound.

As the night came to an end, alt-J returned to the stage to breeze through a four song encore, ending with an epic rendition of my favorite song from their first album, “Breezeblocks.” They gave us one last taste of what their lights could do and left the audience partially blind (in a good way). I was seeing blue each time I blinked, but it added to the ambiance of the music.

Anyone who is a fan of music just the slightest bit should see alt-J live at least once.  An alt-J show is not a concert, it’s an experience that leaves you feeling satisfied and complete. It’s only a matter of time before they are playing huge arenas in the U.S. so there is no better time to see them than now.

alt-J Live Review by Trevor Bosmans, edited by Matthew Weller

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