Alt-J: Indie Ambition

The Fillmore
San Francisco, CA
April 10, 2013

Alt-J only has one album in the books but is already scheduling tours at some of the biggest theaters in the country.  They are a much heralded and impressive British band in the mold of granddaddy indie band Radiohead.  There isn’t much else to compare them with- except maybe all the other bands that are trying to copy Radiohead.  I was impressed with their musicianship and ambition but I also thought that the band tended towards over-elaboration and cleverness for the sake of being clever.  It is nice to hear a band taking chances and the crowd clearly appreciated their musical skill but, at the end of the night, I left feeling excited and dissatisfied at the same time.  Their performance reminded me a bit of Minusthe Bear, all brain  
and no heart.  Still, they do know how to play even if their eccentric sound might not have mass appeal.  The performance was understandably short with only one album which I think is always a bit of a rip.  If you don’t have your own songs, you should throw in some others that you enjoy.  In the 1960s, when rock and roll was learning to walk, bands would play 20-30 minutes but those days are over.  It also doesn’t cost $5 to see a band anymore.   Bottom line: Alt-J is another new band to watch, it will just be a matter of time to see if they can live up to the hype and the acclaim.  

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