SXSW: Alt-J

I was honestly surprised that when Alt-J took the stage they weren’t accompanied by a MacBook. The sun was beating down on a packed outdoor performance area at Waterloo Records as Alt-J delivered a very skilled performance that was simply four guys playing their instruments with some electronic drums, bass synths and oodles of guitar effects thrown in the mix. What surprised me the most about the show was that despite sounding very electronic and produced, Alt-J’s album, An Awesome Wave, must’ve involved little to no post-production at all. Their live show was almost like listening to the album on huge speakers. This was both a good and bad thing. Clearly the band was astoundingly polished and the performers were very talented, being able to deliver a really complex and layered sound with just keys, guitar and bass. Yet Alt-J’s show lacked energy. They didn’t move around, jam out, extend any songs, or really interact with the audience. They simply delivered a very good rendition of their album, no more, no less. They played all the songs one would expect at their show and executed them very well. While Alt-J’s music is fantastic, they’re clearly a band with comfort in the studio creating these complex and layered arrangements rather than thriving off of the energy of the crowd.

Post by Kyle Henson. His DJ show “The Roots of Pop” airs Sundays at 6 p.m.