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Concert review: Alt-J’s “Relaxer” Tour energizes Columbus crowd

Alt-J made the most of their stage set up on Wednesday night at Express Live. The high production level paired well with the lively up beat show. Credit: Owen Daugherty | Assistant Campus Editor

In the midst of Alt-J’s extensive tour following the release of its third album “Relaxer,” the English indie-rock band played to a sold-out crowd at Express Live on Wednesday night.

During the group’s brisk hour-and-thirty minute show, the now-veteran trio stuck to crowd favorites and a majority of songs off its previous two albums.

Alt-J’s third studio album “Relaxer” was underwhelming and has very few tracks that lend themselves well to live performances. But the band played almost its entire debut album “An Awesome Wave” during the show.

The rookie-album effort was well-received and carved the young group out its own pocket of listeners.

With heavy doses of synthesizer to compliment an intricate light show, the stage presence was felt from the beginning.

The fans proved they were clearly there for the group’s early work, as the crowd took off during “Dissolve Me,” “Bloodflood” and “Matilda.” The early tracks that put the quirky and soft spoken band on the map were the same ones it knew to play.

Alt-J brought an upbeat energy to the stage when need be, but mostly stuck to the script in a stationary and straightforward set.

The group is not one to stray from their album tracks, performing no covers and virtually zero on-stage improvisation or jam sessions.

The trio of black-clad men were divided by light up beams on stage, making for a breathtaking visual show. The lights pulsed with every note and there was barely any wasted effort, let alone time.

Tracks from Alt-J’s second album, “This is All Yours,” were spliced in here and there, but to little fanfare. However, now as seasoned performers, the rock group kept the energized crowd entertained during livelier tracks like “In Cold Blood” and “Fitzpleasure” before diving into its encore following a short break.

While grateful, with plenty of thanks mixed in with occasional “cheers guys” from lead singer Joe Newman, Alt-J kept playing song after song with little time for conversation in between.

The almost indecipherable lyrics to many of their songs actually pair quite well with bass-driven tracks. There is a certain rhythm to their music, as was the case with the flow of the setlist as well.

Gus Unger-Hamilton accompanied Newman on vocals on several occasions and was tasked with keeping the flow of the night on keyboard.

Alt-J’s four-song encore was the highlight of the night, and featured the top two tracks off its sophomore album: the rowdy “Left Hand Free” and hyper-sexual “Every Other Freckle.”

It was odd seeing a band touring its third album play so little of its latest album. Ultimately, that decision comes from a more mature band knowing what it does best and sticking to it.

Considering that fact, Alt-J performed crowd-pleasers throughout the night to round out a very solid, yet uneventful performance to a very happy crowd.

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