ALT J Live @ Challenge Stadium
On Friday, the triangles (aka alt-J) returned to Challenge Stadium to play the last show of their Australian tour. With no new album to promote since their short east coast tour last year, their set was packed with songs from both albums, with fans going wild for hits such as “Breezeblocks”, “Left Hand Free”, and “Hunger of the Pines”. With a brilliant lightshow that brought their show to another level, fans made the easy transition from head-bopping to supporting act Ásgeir’s soft electronica to hands-in-air, body-swaying dancing in alt-J’s set.
Having received triple J fame late last year for “Kings and Crosses”, Icelandic singer-songwriter Ásgeir was well received by the early-arriving attendees, who sang along and cheered him on. Not being very familiar with his music, I wasn’t sure what to expect from him, and by the end of it, I still wasn’t sold. I’m not sure if it was because my seated tickets meant I was removed from the excitement and anticipation that seemed to be felt in the standing area, but I felt like a bit more could have been offered. With Ásgeir’s dreamy falsetto and soft electronic sound interspersed with soulful piano riffs, reminiscent of Bon Iver, his performance seemed more appropriate for a small intimate setting rather than a stadium.
Alt-J’s set on the other hand was no short of spectacular, with a light show that bordered on mesmerising and blinding, it was the perfect accompaniment to their experimental rock. Opening with a “Hunger of the Pine”, the pulsing blue and golden floodlights made them seem at home in the stadium environment. While some would say that the lights and staging was a distraction to their performance, I felt like it enhanced it. Drummer Thom Green was definitely the star of their live performance, especially in “Bloodflood”. The transition from “Bloodflood” to “Bloodflood pt. ii” could have been smoother to better convey the link between them – the pause between the two lasted a bit too long, bordering on awkward. However, on their own, each was an impressive performance, as a deep blood red very literally flooded the stadium.
The short intermission, between their main set and what was an obligatory encore, saw anticipation peak for “Breezeblocks”, easily one of their more successful singles, as the audience broke out into cheers and sing-a-long. Keeping it to the encore could have short-fired but with plenty of songs to keep audience members happy until then, the show closed on a high and exceeded my expectations.