Sunday, September 22, 2013

An Alt-J / Lord Huron Show Recap

This past Wednesday (9/18) I had the chance to catch the Alt-J and Lord Huron show at the 9:30 Club in DC with my buds Ben, Jeremy, and Taylor. Alt-J has always held a place of intrigue in my mind though I wouldn't count myself a super-fan. With that said, their music is so full and unique that, when given the chance to catch them live, I jumped at the opportunity.
Front row!
As Jeremy did all the organizing/purchasing, it was only a few days before the show that I found out that Lord Huron was opening. Their latest (only?) album has been a favorite of mine over the last year, commonly creating a perfect atmosphere of smooth, folksy goodness.

As their music has a relaxing vibe, I thought the show might sound good but be a little bit of a bore, especially as the guys came out in their J. Crew / Levi gear. Yet I was surprised by how exciting of a show these guys put on. The lead singer lost his cowboy hat a number of times due to rocking out or playing percussion in addition to his guitar (something I absolutely love). We were able to nab front row spots, giving us a great view of the electric guitarist's fantastic skills in creating a great sound. All in all, they sounded great and put a ton of energy into making an engaging show. Check them out sometime if you get the chance.

Onto Alt-J. These guys just exploded with their first and only album. We were catching them on the first night of two sold-out shows at the 9:30 Club. The crowd was psyched to be there. And we could feel the energy up front.
The four piece band came out arranged in a neat row and started right into their song, Intro. The word "calculated" was mentioned many times in describing their show and I think that's fair. They enjoyed playing their music for their fans but they weren't necessarily intent on creating incredible stage presence, perhaps an indicator of the specific *ahem* culture their music creates.   
The lead singer, big red beard, all black outfit and floral shoes, sounded great both with his super distinct vocals and guitar picking. Bleached-hair bassist and pizza-delivery-boy drummer were on point. And put-together keyboardist created just about every distinct sound to fill in the gaps. While their album has some super creative sounds on it, it's always a little disappointing when the interesting parts are created solely by a synth... I guess my desire for a live show is to see something I wouldn't see elsewhere.
When performing off of just one album, filling a headlining setlist usually requires some additions. Perhaps the anecdotal highlight was Alt-J's cover of College's "A Real Hero" (the standout track from the Drive soundtrack). That, in addition to the pretty dynamic light-show that accompanied, made for a real good show. Again, check them out live and, perhaps more importantly, check out their album.

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