[Live] Alt-J

Alt-J, Snakadaktal, City Calm Down
Hordern Pavilion
31 July 2013

Walking into Hordern Pavilion, Melbourne four piece City Calm Down made the most of entertaining an eager audience with their funky tunes. Confessing to playing most of the songs from their recent EP Movements, their 80s-laced, bass-heavy electronic pop gently swayed the restless crowd.

Followed by the dreamy melodies of Snakadaktal, this performance also marked their return from a spot on the Splendor in the Grass line-up. On the brink of releasing their debut album Sleep In The Water, the Melbourne band performed a chilling rendition of ‘Air’, and stapled themselves into my memory with the insanely catchy ‘Dance Bear’.

Walking onstage to Tyga’s ‘Rack City Bitch’, I took a double take as Alt-J arrived onstage to an entrance conventional of a comedy performance. Diving straight into the first track of An Awesome Wave, the devoted crowd responded with holding their hands high to create triangles, and preparing their Instavideo.

The four-piece were positioned across frount of stage against a backdrop of the album artwork for An Awesome Wave. Split into three panels, stage lights transformed the static image of jagged black lines into flowing rainbow lava, which poured behind the band throughout the set.

Dropping seamlessly into the a capella beauty of ‘❦ (Ripe & Ruin)’, this only made the physical pull of ‘Tessellate’ intensify as the full band returned. As smoke rings rose from the audience during ‘Something Good’, the emotionless black box of a venue somehow managed to gain a festival vibe. ‘Dissolve Me’ was the catalyst in regretting not seeing Alt J when they performed at smaller venues. Returning to Australia for the third time this year, their ballroom days are already over.

A crowd favourite, yet lyrically dense, ‘Fitzpleasure’ was responded with silence until fans knew it was safe to throw their hands in the air and yell long phrases of single vowels during appropriate moments. Between songs, banter was kept to a minimum with sporadic polite comments from keyboardist Gus Unger-Hamilton about anybody turning up to see them in the sold out Hordern Pavilion.

Hoping that the Australian crowd would recall the next song, Alt J revived ‘Slow Dre’, a mash up of Kylie Minogue and Dr Dre recorded last year for Triple J’s ‘Like a Version’. A chorus of excited Australian accents chanted the lyrics to ‘Matilda’, and became the only song with an intimacy that was not smothered by a large venue. As the a ccapella moments of ‘Bloodflood’ wavered into distraction, Alt J’s whirlwind three-day tour was dedicated to the supporting acts with ‘Ms’.

The audience was then finally appeased with the song they had been waiting for, as ‘Breezeblocks’ brought an entire new energy to the sold out pavilion. Returning for a predicable encore, the a cappella duet of Newman and Unger-Hamilton made ‘Hand-Made’ and a cover of College’s ‘A Real Hero’ a set highlight. Joined by the rest of the band, Gwil Sainsbury flew a paper plane into the audience before ending the set with ‘Taro’. I missed the first awesome wave of Alt-J, but I’ll be damned if I’m missing the next. ∆

Tanydd Jaquet
Originally published on themusicnetwork.com

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