Tag Archives: alt-j

been | Alt-J

Coming off the high from their wildly successful first and second albums (An Awesome Wave and This is All Yours) Alt-J released their much anticipated third album earlier this year. RELAXER is a collection of 8 hit-or-miss tracks leaving even die-hard fans a little underwhelmed. So, naturally when they announced their RELAXER tour I was disappointed all the focus would be on their least exciting album. However, I couldn’t stand to miss standout tracks like ‘In Cold Blood’ and ‘Deadcrush’ live in Town Hall.

First let me mention the outstanding performance by Clap Clap Riot, the Kiwi five-piece Indie-Rock band who opened the night. They warmed up the crowd with head-banging tunes capturing the attention of the crowd quickly. ‘Crickets in the Grass’ off their new album Dull Life was a definite crowd-pleaser. The lead singer belted ballads and thrashed his guitar with band mates joining him on a bass guitar, keys/guitar and a powerful drum beat.

As a self-proclaimed lighting geek, I took note of the long lights hanging on stage in the dark and waited with anticipation for them  to light up the venue in a dramatic fashion. I was not disappointed, the lights were fascinating, often taking form of skyscrapers. Town Hall was made for shows like this.

Alt-J took their places on stage where they remained for the entirety of the show, the lights acting at times like a cage over each band member. They opened with one of stand out tracks on RELAXER, ‘3WW’ before diving into fan-favourite ‘Something Good’. The sound was stunning, something I’ve come to expect from the venue.

Although there was minimal crowd interaction, Alt-J knew what the crowd wanted serving up nine tracks from An Awesome Wave and five from This Is All Yours. My fears of the show being too RELAXER focused were quickly put to bed. Their set-list was masterfully crafted, including the four best songs from RELAXER sprinkled throughout ending with ‘Pleader’ surprisingly being a show-stopper with it’s choir-like vocals and haunting violin.

The band quickly returned to stage for a thrilling encore of ‘Intro’, ‘Left Hand Free’ and ‘Breezeblocks’ ending the evening with the crowd pleading “Please don’t go/I love you so, I love you so”.

It was one of those shows I immediately mourned the ending of. 5/5.

see the skyscrapers?

been | St Jerome’s Laneway Festival – Auckland

One of the best things about kiwi summers is the music festivals that attract some of the best live acts to ever come to Aotearoa. Laneways is one of the festivals I look forward to every year that brings up-and-coming bands that end up becoming big names in mainstream.

This year’s lineup included Bat for Lashes, Bailterspace, Tame Impala, Yeasayer, Of Monsters And Men, Alt-J, Nicolas Jaar, Divine Fits, Jessie Ware, Real Estate, The Phoenix Foundation, Lawrence Arabia, A Place to Bury Strangers, Japandroids, Street Chant, The Men, Cloud Nothings, Kings of Convenience, Phelps and Munro, Deer Park, Beach Pigs, Flume, Polica and The Eversons. Pretty impressive right?!

With so many bands playing across four different stages it looked like it was going to be a full-on day. Auckland didn’t disappoint on the day with the sunshine. It was a glorious day when we rocked up right before 4.30pm in time to catch Of Monsters and Men.

The six piece band came out on stage kitted out in leis; I guess they were attempting to look festive. They opened up with the first track on their latest album Dirty Paws and oh what a moment.  This would have to be one of my favourite sets at the festival. Such great and up-lifting energy, you realise this is the sort of band that was meant to play to huge festivals with everyone singing along. When the band performed Little Talks it was a rather magical moment with the audience singing along. This band evoked the same emotion I had when I saw Mumford & Sons so I can understand why people would compare Of Monsters & Men to Mumford & Sons.

Laneways did a great job with the timetable this year because right after the Of Monsters & Men set on the the Mystere Stage, alt-j started their set on the Hey Seuss Stage. Now this is a band that is a must-see. Hyped by so many blogs, you instantly know why when you give their album An Awesome Wave a good listen. It’s such a quirky sound that mixes all sorts of genres and translates beautifully live. They opened up their set with the Intro track on An Awesome Wave that lead into the gorgeous Tesselate.

Other highlights of the festival included Jessie Ware, Flume, Bat For Lashes (who really does have an amazing voice) , Nicolas Jaar and the new Redbull Thunderdome (flashing lights on walls FTW).

So onto my disappointments (which didn’t ruin the whole vibe much). The queues: I really shouldn’t complain but I felt this year the queues were way more longer than last year’s. It could be because of a much bigger crowd this year or the bar running out of drinks (they had no red wine *sad face*). Although it is a festival that attracts thousands so it’s expected, lines would be long.

The crowd: I had a huge problem with the crowds at the start of this festival. My issue was with the lack of enthusiasm, especially during the Of Monsters & Men set. Maybe some folks are just too cool to show that they are having a good time and to let the band know they appreciate them. It annoys me a lot actually. You pay $130 to come to a music festival only to stand like a zombie in the crowd staring aimlessly. Seriously! I think the more drunk people got the more enthusiastic they became. Le sigh, I’ve come to expect this at festivals in NZ now.

Missing out on Polica: Unfortunately Polica came on pretty early in the afternoon at 1:40PM and I didn’t get the chance to see them. My photographer did though and raved on about them. So I am hoping they do come back someday, if so maybe they can play a little later on in the afternoon.

Thanks Laneways for making us happy and help get us stuck into 2013 with some festive good times. Look forward to what next year’s Laneways brings.

p.s: Silo Park really is a brilliant venue. You’re right by the water, surrounded by silos and get the golden sun setting on you. It’s perfect!

Images by Anthony Corre.