The Bootleg was bumping on Saturday night for Alt-J (∆) with Wildcat! Wildcat! providing support. Mercury-nominated Alt-J, which hails from Cambridge, England, were back in LA for the third time in five months to celebrate the North American release of their fantastic, mind-expanding (insert superlative here) LP, An Awesome Wave. While openers for the evening, Wildcat! Wildcat! who finished their August residency at the Echo to much acclaim, have been on the b3sci radar for some time now. The two groups combined to produce one of the most satisfying nights of music of the year.
Wildcat! Wildcat! (duplicate names have replaced the animal + noun setup) burst onto the scene earlier this year with “Mr. Quiche”, a feel-good indie-electro-cool with a mesmerizing key + falsetto combo. Follow-ups “The Chief” and “End Of The World Everyday” adhere to the same equation for success with impressive results. Although only a band for a year, the members have played together for considerably longer, a discernible reality from the first note forward. They know exactly how they want to sound. Their level of professionalism did not go unnoticed, as they controlled the dynamics of the set throughout, engaging the audience with showmanship that wasn’t showy. A fair number of attendees had seen Wildcat! before, cheering for the intros to songs which haven’t made their way online and are presumably waiting in the vault for the debut full-length, and the devotees’ excitement permeated throughout the rest of the crowd. This is a group which is ready and waiting to be discovered on the national level. The to-be-released album is already one of my most anticipated for 2013.
Wilcat! Wildcat! (Official)
It’s so refreshing to hear new rock music that takes the consciousness of its audience seriously. If there’s one word that pops when I think of Alt-J, it’s “intelligent” (closely followed by “metaphysical”). The band is mathy right down to the name Alt-J (∆), the symbol used to denote change and determine a derivative in calculus. And just like with calculus, they make music which can reveal something new each time.
Alt-J began their set with the first three songs off An Awesome Wave: “Intro”, “(The Ripe & Ruin)”, an a-capella cut with lyrics both Bob Dylan and Dylan Thomas could be proud of, and “Tesselate”, a hazy, stoner jam about a break-up, hook-up or threesome. Once the house’ vocal mix adjusts, they sound perfect as they hit their stride (and ripple the Bootleg’s billowing floor). Next is “Something Good”, with my fav lyric off the album: “Forty-eight thousand seats, bleats / and roars for my memory of you”, truly arena rock in an English country basket. From there they go into “Ms.”, followed by “Fitzpleasure”, recently featured on the USA TV show, Suits. When they played the “(Guitar)” interlude after “Matilda”, members of the audience were hushing those around them to hear Joe Newman’s solo in detail. Each of the members display their own personal signature, from drummer Thom Green’s lack of hi-hats to Gwil Sainsbury’s castanets and Gus Unger-Hamilton’s pervasive keyboard loops.
I was impressed by Alt-J when I saw them at Bardot in May; I was blown away by Saturday’s performance. They’ve made my Mercury uber-short list of two (along with LLH). And whether or not they win the coveted award, the future for Alt-J is extremely promising, for the band possesses great wisdom. As they advise: “Like all good fruit, the balance of life is in the ripe and ruin.” Review written by Chris Gedos
Bootleg Theater (Official)