On a chilly Thursday night at Humphrey’s by the Bay, eerie clouds swept past a small sliver of the moon, fittingly setting the mood for an evening with alt-J.
The English indie-rock band casually emerged to an excited sold-out crowd and took their respective places on stage, divided by rows of trickling light stands. The quirky and eclectic group released their third studio album last year, which was met with mixed reviews. While alt-J opened strong with “Deadcrush” from RELAXER, the majority of the setlist stuck to fan favorites from previous albums This is All Yours and An Awesome Wave.
The energy built as the familiar “tra-la-la” notes and heavy horror movie style bassline kicked off “Fitzpleasure”. Mirroring the unique rhythm of the arrangement, the stage lights switched back and forth abruptly between an intense strobe show and three lone spotlights illuminating each artist. The light show and energy continued as Newman led the crowd through soaring choruses from “Every Other Freckle” and “Dissolve Me”.
The rhythm and flow of “Tessellate” showcased alt-J’s exclusive ability to blend spirituality and sexuality. A pulsating beat that led into the bass drop of “Hunger of the Pine” entranced the crowd until everyone was shouting together, “I’m a female rebel.” The night crescendoed with their high energy hit, “Left Hand Free”. After a quick break and some tweaking of instruments, alt-J returned to the stage to lead off their encore with “Intro” and “3WW”.
As they closed with their most popular title, “Breezeblocks” everyone in the packed crowd was dancing and singing along to the haunting round of, “Please don’t go, I love you so.” The band conveyed their love for San Diego sharing, “It’s not every night you get to play next to the ocean and under palm trees.” It has become a familiar feeling for locals, but maybe it should serve as a slight reminder of how just lucky we are to experience all of our favorite live shows in this coveted Southern California setting.