Alt-J Debut Brand New Songs at Intimate Club Show in New York City
Alt-J haven't performed in front of a live audience since their last show on Dec. 16, 2013 at New York City's Iridium Jazz Club. Nearly 10 months later -- in anticipation of their second studio album and impending fall tour -- the English art rockers partnered with NPR Music for an intimate warm-up show at a small club in Greenwich Village.
The music created by Alt-J borders a lot of lines; at times it feels like flat-out indie rock, other times it has a synth-fueled dance beat to it, and even others it dances with the spirit of '60s folk. It's hard to define Alt-J, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The hypnotizing rhythms of their debut album, 'An Awesome Wave,' are meant to be interpreted by each individual listener, and after hearing new music debuted last night (Sept. 2), their next album, 'This Is All Yours,' will take that notion even further.
Opening with the haunting first single from their new LP (set for release in the U.S. on Sept. 23 via Infectious Records), 'Hunger of the Pine,' Alt-J quickly set the stage for the night: this was not going to be a raucous event, but rather, it would turn out to be a perfectly relaxed and beguiling performance. Thanks to the focused attention of multi-instrumentalist Gus Unger-Hamilton, the nonchalant enthusiasm of frontman Joe Newman and the erratically controlled chaos of drummer Thom Green -- not to mention the addition of newcomer Cameron Knight -- the atmosphere had a welcoming yet unpredictable feeling to it all night long.
The setlist (below) was divided nearly evenly between new and old; the excitement of hearing familiar songs like 'Tessellate' and 'Fitzpleasure' was only exceeded by the anticipation of seeing never-before-heard tracks like 'Bloodflood Pt. 2' and 'The Gospel of John Hurt' performed for the first time ever. After playing 13 songs in about an hours' time, the crowd at (Le) Poisson Rouge wasn't about to let the quartet leave for the night. Returning to the stage, Alt-J opened their encore with the third track from their new record, 'Nara,' which turned out to be one of the most mesmerizing songs of the evening.
As the crowd finished digesting the brand new song, Alt-J ended with 'Breezeblocks,' a tune that cracked Billboard's Top 10 Alternative charts last year. Witnessing the immediate rhythm of the crowd swaying back and forth, 'Breezeblocks' is a perfect example of Alt-J's ability to create infectious music that, frankly, affects the listener.
Alt-J's performance at (Le) Poisson Rouge was free for those lucky fans who RSVP'd when the show was announced last week; it "sold out" in nine minutes. For the thousands, if not millions, of people who wanted to be at the show, NPR Music streamed the entire set online and it's currently available to watch on-demand here.
Alt-J kick off their North American tour on Oct. 14 in Vancouver and wrap things up on Nov. 19 in Washington, D.C. Get the full schedule and ticket details here.
Alt-J -- New York City's (Le) Poisson Rouge
Alt-J -- New York City, Sept. 2, 2014
'Hunger of the Pine'
'Left Hand Free'
'Bloodflood Pt. 2'
'(Ripe & Ruin)'
'Every Other Freckle'
'The Gospel of John Hurt'
Watch Alt-J Perform 'Breezeblocks' at (Le) Poisson Rouge