Scenes From Alt-J's Sold-Out Saturday Night Show at the Granada Theater.
There's a nasty little speed bump known as the “hype backlash” that almost always rears its head on the road to international superstardom.
English groove rock quartet Alt-J hit that sleeping policeman pretty early on, too. Back in September, in the wake of the band's debut An Awesome Wave LP getting nominated for their home country's prestigious Mercury Prize, taste-making music review site Pitchfork gave the album quite the scathing review, skewering the band for their obvious influence set. It wasn't an undeserved criticism, but it might've been a little over the top.
Alt-J's an enjoyable enough outfit, to be sure, combining the tribal elements of Local Natives' beats with the swirling guitar and electronic work of Radiohead. Alt-J may, in fact, be the lowest common denominator of those two older outfits — but that low point for this band remains relatively high int eh grand scheme of things.
And for such a young band, this much is clear: Alt-J sure is popular. The band's Saturday night set at the Granada Theater sold out well in advance of the doors opening for the show. A byproduct of the already packed Lower Greenville St. Patrick's Day offerings? Perhaps.
But this was crowd didn't arrive at the Granada on accident. This was a reverential crowd — so much so that the band even appeared taken aback by the audience's ear-piercing applause and breakdown clap-alongs. It wasn't blind adoration, either: Road-tested from their SXSW jaunt, where the Alt-J was one of the festival's most buzzed-about bands, it took the band no time to find their groove on Saturday and ride it throughout their entire 50-minute set.
No, it wasn't a long performance — the band's catalog (or lack thereof) precluded it from really being one — but it was a strong, tightly wound one.
And, thought they may in fact be the quite-expected product of their influences, Alt-J at least proved something on Saturday night: The crowds don't care what anyone says this band; they like Alt-J just fine as it is.