alt-J at Comerica Theatre


alt-J at Comerica Theatre 10/14

by Jenna Lerman


alt-J made a stop in Phoenix this last Wednesday, and they completely lived up to my expectation. This indie rock band from Leeds has been around for quite a few years. If you were wondering where their obscure name came from, their symbol is a triangle as explained in their song Tesselate, “Triangles are my favorite shape”. On a Mac, the shortcut for a triangle symbol is alt + j. I guess band names are harder to think of lately?

The opener, San Fermin, has a really interesting sound. It’s sultry and mysterious and their lyrics really tell a story. The band is complete with the usual vocals, except in San Fermin some songs are sung by Allen Tate, and others are sung by Charlene Kaye. Another unusual characteristic of the band is the edition of a trumpet, saxophone, and violin to the usual guitar, drums, and keyboard.

I absolutely love when bands use not-so typical instruments. San Fermin’s stand out song for me was “Emily”, which features Tate’s strong vocals and the perfect backing band. Another standout was “Jackrabbit”, off their album of the same name. This time, Kaye did the vocals, and her unique voice completely made this pop song something different. I have actually seen Kaye multiple times in tiny bars and coffee shops when I used to live in Philadelphia and NYC back in 2012-2013 so it was a really cool moment to see her opening for alt-J in a decently large venue.

Onto alt-J, which was nothing short of spectacular. I’ve seen them before at a festival, so I was worried that nothing could live up to that special festival feeling. I don’t usually pick alt-J out of my iTunes to listen to very often, specifically because there is such a difference in their recorded vs. live music. They carry a certain ~vibe and make the audience feel like a giant party. I was not in the pit like I would have rather been, but even in the seated sections alt-J made me feel like I was at a music festival.

The stand out song for me was “Tessellate”, one of my favorite songs from their 2012 album An Awesome Wave. “Tessellate” is one of the band’s biggest hits, and I’m pretty sure most people have heard it at one point or another. The beat in “Tessellate” is contagious and you can’t help but dance or at least bob your head to it.

Their other stand-out songs included “Something Good” and “Left Hand Free”. These are all off their first album, and some of their best songs in my opinion. In 2014, the band came out with This Is All Yours which honestly I wasn’t too fond of. I think I’ll always be biased toward their older music because it brings back a lot of good memories, and it’s just a consistently good album in general.

alt-J closed the show with their most popular song by far, “Breezeblocks”. I don’t understand/know many lyrics because they’re pretty confusing, but I could sing along to “Breezeblocks”. This song actually features one of my favorite song lyrics ever, “Muscle to muscle and toe to toe / The fear has gripped me but here I go”. It’s a simple lyric that in my opinion, carries a lot of meaning.

alt-J just finished up this tour, but next time they’re in a city near you it’s definitely worth getting tickets for. I’m fairly certain they’ll be joining the festival circuit next summer, and I hope to see them live again!