British indie-rock band Alt-J returns to the states to promote new album 'RELAXER'

Alt-J performs their new album at the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion in Boston on July 28. (Photo by author)

Alt-J performs their new album at the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion in Boston on July 28. (Photo by author)

Alt-J fans started their weekend right with a sold-out concert at the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion in Boston, Massachusetts on July 28th.

Coming from Leeds, England, the 3-piece, Indie-rock band Alt-J returned to the states to promote their newest album “RELAXER” which came out earlier this year.

Their set opened with “3WW,” the opening track from their newest album.  The song began with a mellow introductory riff with just a few strips of lights across the stage revealing the band’s presence.  When the band entered with their opening lyrics, the stage lit up in vibrant colors and the crowd went wild.

Alt-J’s stage was set with large screens spanning the back of the stage and hanging lights surrounding the band members.  Each song was accompanied with vibrant lights and abstract animations to help set the tone.

Unlike many concerts I’ve attended in the past, the band performed their 70-minute set straight through with very few breaks.  Throughout the entire concert, the band’s and the audience’s energy only continued to grow through to the end of the encore.  

Many of the songs encouraged the summer vibe with faster music and colorful of lights for the crowd to dance under.  Some of the many exciting performances of the night that got the crowd off their feet included “Something Good” and “Dissolve Me,” both from their debut album “An Awesome Wave.”   The bright yellows, pinks and blues depicted the livelihood and spirit of summer.

The members of Alt-J. (Photo courtesy Alt-J on Facebook)

The members of Alt-J. (Photo courtesy Alt-J on Facebook)

About midway through the set, the band slowed down and brought a more somber tone to the stage, including my personal favorite of the night, “The Gospel of John Hurt” from their second album “This is All Yours.”  This song contrasted many of the preceding ones with darker blues and greens on stage with fluid light transitions to accompany the open harmonies and deeper sound from the band.

The band’s claim to fame, other than their intricate exploration of different sounds, is their innovative combination of words and phrases into attention-grabbing lyrics and metaphors.  About halfway through their set, alt-J performed one of the singles off their new album, “In Cold Blood,” which includes repeated references to the binary code, the computer coding system consisting of 0s and 1s as a metaphorical way to depict tension between two lovers.

After leaving the stage for an unexpectedly short set, fans urged the band back on stage for an encore. The band returned with a brief intro which then lead into “Left Hand Free” off their 2014 album “This is All Yours.”  As one of the best-known and lively songs, the concert transformed into a dance party with fans jumping and singing to the music and the lights flashing across the arena.

The concert ended with “Breezeblocks,” one of the first singles released by the band.  The crowd once again screamed the lyrics over lead singer Joe Newman.  The connection between Newman and the audience grew as the crowd sang the closing lyrics, “please don’t go, I love you so” in alternation with Newman.

The minimalist approach to the set and lack of choreography by the band encouraged the concert to become a sensory experience that truly became about the music and spirit of a good time.

Alt-J will continue touring the United States through the rest of the summer with various local artists opening for their set.  “RELAXER” was released on June 2, 2017 and then returning to the UK for the second leg of the tour in the fall.


Lucille Littlefield is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at lucille.littlefield@uconn.edu.