You know a band is reaching cult-like adoration, when, as you approach a venue, hordes of people stare longingly, drooling at the very idea of getting in, pleadingy for extra tickets as you stroll guilty past the box office, catching a glimpse of the sign at the door: Sold out.
That’s the exact situation ticket-holders faced at the Neptune Theatre on Saturday night – where British indie-rock quartet Alt-j took the stage.
In the past year, the Mercury Prize-winning act has become a staple for music fans in the Northwest: in addition to frequenting the airwaves of KEXP, the group played a sold out show at the Crocodile in December, and this spring, they’ll stop by Sasquatch. On Saturday the four-piece played to a completely enamored crowd, delivering an hour-plus set of cuts from their debut release, An Awesome Wave.
From the moment vocalist/guitarist Joe Newman parted his lips, the audience was in awe, devouring every note of the group’s vibe-y, stomach-churning-from-the-butterflies-inside tracks.
There was a pastoral element to the show. Chalk it up to the perfectly aligned harmonies or the gentle keys. Or the throbbing percussion playing backdrop to Newman’s chilling words. Or, maybe still, it’s the magic that comes from mixing the aforementioned elements together – and having it sound just as whimsically divine live, as it does on your headphones.
Highlights of the set came in favorites “Tessellate,” and “Breezeblocks,” the latter of which sparked yearning chants of “please don’t go, please don’t go, I love you so.” As the words (and the feelings behind them) grew louder, it became more and more obvious that those both on stage - and off - shared the sentiment.
Yet the most surprising and pleasant moments of the set came courtesy of a pair of freshly-arranged covers. For the first, Newman and his band mates took on College’s “A Real Hero,” off the soundtrack to the movie Drive. And for the second, a mash-up of Kylie Minogue’s “Slow” and Dr. Dre’s “Still D.R.E.” Though familiar, each track found new energy when wrapped in the intricacies of Alt-j’s trance-like sound.