The closing of the Trinity Summer Series sees us take in a sublime performance from alt-J. As the band perform a varied set of their back catalogue to the crowd at Trinity there’s been a constant ebb and flow of attention. The crowd chatter over the laid back introduction, ‘3WW’ off latest release RELAXER. But, as the set progresses people hold-off on their conversations once they hear something more familiar, particularly tracks from preceding albums like ‘Dissolve’ and ‘Left Hand Free’.
Although they are musical miles ahead of a lot of acts that make it to prime time radio play, alt-J remain accessible while showcasing their high standard of composing and arranging. After listening intently to their work, it becomes apparent that a lot of time, effort and talent goes into carefully crafting each song. The drums and percussion are most notable in being an integral part of their overall sound. Without Thom Green’s fearlessness in deviating from the norm, playing on the offbeat, use of percussion and conjuring up complex rhythms, alt-J would posses a wholly different sound. They rarely pose a simple four/four beat yet the tracks are still danceable.
As performers, the three piece do not offer much in the way of showmanship. There’s minimal crowd interaction from the band with keys player, Gus Unger-Hamilton being the only member to address the audience a handful of times, letting the songs speak for themselves. The music and lyrical storytelling offer intensity and intrigue without the need for an overly impassioned performance.
The band rarely interact with each other onstage either, but there is little to no need as the trio are so tight and well rehearsed. There’s a mix of people and ages in the crowd but it would seem a large proportion are in attendance to hear the songs they know and have tagged along with a friend.
Clad in vintage jumpers, cyber buns and glitter, alt-J tickets have seemingly been just another accessory for some gig goers in creating an acceptable image, though it’s fair to say that audience interaction piques with sing alongs to popular tracks like ‘Matilda’ and ‘Taro’, before the show ends triumphantly with ‘Breezeblocks’.
alt-J photographed for State by Leah Carroll