Last night's show by alt-J was tinged with anticipation. Eager fans could hardly wait for this four piece outfit's first ever performance in Indianapolis. Not to disappoint, these guys entranced both the ears and the eyes. Implementing their album cover as a back-drop pulsating along with their sounds, this British indie rock outfit showed Old National Center a terrific first time.
The opener, Guards, embodied the familiar "Yeah! Hey!" feel that too many acts are striving for as of late. Sounding none too distant from the folksy chiming of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros or The Lumineers, this group didn't really get me where I needed to be. This trio finished their set with a rendition of "Happy Birthday" in honor of their female band mate's birthday. Neither the crowd, nor the band really seemed to do this timeless classic any semblance of justice. They departed by saying "We will never forget each and every one of your faces." ... I remain skeptical of that statement.
Thankfully, sooner rather than later, the fellows of alt-J graced us with their presence. They basically played their "An Awesome Wave" album in its entirety. Their laid-back indie rock style was complemented by unique additions to the set like an electronic xylophone. During certain parts of songs, the lead singer and guitarist, Joe Newman, could be seen using hammer-on's for a remarkably long period. alt-J is a band that elevates their sparse instrumentation into a space that winds up sounding massive. Towards the beginning of their set, the chunky rhythms of "Tessellate" sauntered over the speakers. The thrilled fans threw up their finger triangles, the band's logo, into the air in a triumphant motion. "Matilda" drew in audience participation as fans belted out, "this is for Matilda" in an apparent fervor. As the night drew to a close, the familiar pickings of "Breezeblocks" floated from Newman's guitar. The electric xylophone kicked in, and the crowd lost it. In my opinion, it's always the wisest move to save the best for last. Evidently, alt-J are not only extraordinarily talented, but they are also skilled performers. Balancing the peaks and falls of a suspenseful performance isn't a simple challenge, but they gracefully succeeded.