Alt-J/Walk the Moon | 9.18.15

cd walk-the-moonAlt-J seem at their strongest when they are at their most unconventional.

 

 

 

Photos by Bruce Matlock and Heather Pippin

Simply put, some musicians are entertainers, some are simply musicians. There is nothing wrong with the latter, but if you plan on 10,000-plus people coming to see you, you’d better bring a kick-ass lightshow. Alt-J currently fall firmly into the latter; all of the openers for 105.7 The Point’s last Big Summer Show of the season fell into the former.

They did however bring an excellent Radiohead-worthy light show that more than kept the crowd entranced by the band’s art/indie rock. Alt-J dynamically strolled through a set that interwove tracks from their first two albums. They launched into “Something Good,” an all-too-appropriate opening song, before jumping into the “get the hit out of the way” version of “Left Hand Free.”

Keyboardist/vocalist Gus Unger-Hamilton handled the entirety of crowd interaction, which was sparse but largely unnecessary. Guitarist/singer Joe Newman did lose his cool and actually laugh for a second as the crowd sang-along to the intro of “Breezeblocks.” The band truly seemed appreciative of the opportunity to play for such a large crowd after last selling out the Pageant in December.

Hearing “Bloodflow” and “Bloodflow pt. II” put together from their first two albums was a treat early in the set, and gave drummer Thom Green the chance to explore his kit to its fullest. Alt-J seem at their strongest when they are at their most unconventional. “Taro” explores the story of a real-life female war photographer and her lover’s death. Newman creates an odd-sounding chorus with his guitar by using tape to tap on the strings, thus creating a haunting song.

As I previously mentioned, all of the openers fell into the category of musicians who well qualify as entertainers. Relative newcomers this summer in America, Catfish and the Bottlemen seem a band with great potential. The band comes across much heavier live than on record, and share a great deal in common with the Kooks and Arctic Monkeys. It will be interesting to see where they go musically.

Matt and Kim are as synonymous with party as Andrew WK. In comparison to the quiet of Alt-J, the duo quickly made it clear that their show doesn’t change based on how big the crowd is, or who it consists of. The younger crowd, clearly there for Walk the Moon, they were the people making dirty jokes in a Disney movie. Early in the set, Matt Johnson made it clear that he would be taking the very warm evening as a last chance to sweat his ass off so he could remember the night all winter. Drummer Kim Schifino, meanwhile, danced her ass off on the crowd, the drums…pretty much everywhere, and several in the crowd followed.

No other band on this night has had a bigger summer than Walk the Moon. Before the release of their latest album, Talking Is Hard, the band would have more likely been opening the show. “Shut Up and Dance” certainly is in the running for song of the year on the pop charts, and second single “Different Colors” has quickly picked up steam as a rallying cry for any equality movement. The band doesn’t hide its influences. “Avalanche” sounds like a cut from a ’90s boy band if the members had played instruments, and there is certainly plenty of ’80s glitz for everyone.

On a night when everyone seemed to have a different way of doing things, there was certainly only one end result, and excellent evening that spanned style of different colors and generations. | Bruce Matlock

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