All colours and cares glaze to grey, shrivelled and stricken to dots,
Left hand grasps what the body grasps not – le photographe est mort.”
When was the last time you went to a concert with a bunch of your best friends? The kind of concert where you spend a majority of it just holding each other, smiling like total idiots and singing along to every other lyric? My entire Alt-J concert experience was such. And as I looked around the tightly packed Boston venue, I found that everyone was paired off into couples or groups of friends, just as we were. It was adorable. As someone who holds her New Yorker head high in Boston, I felt that for an hour on that particular evening, we could all come together to be the same: a bunch of silly best friends in love with good music.
It’s funny because I don’t think it’s just a coincidence that Alt-J is a band that attracts groups of friends. I remember showing my roommate the music video for Tessellate, and how quickly that spread like wildfire to the rest of my friends. I think that’s probably how most people wound up listening to these guys, via word of mouth.
The way the venue was set up unfortunately meant that one had a 80% chance of standing behind a massive column which cut off some of the stage view. This wasn’t too bad, seeing as I just focused on the drummer the entire time. I love watching drummers because everything depends on them, and yet it’s so strange to put all of that pressure on one human — one that is incapable of truly always perfectly being on beat. I found out later that they all wear in ear monitors, and that the drummer had a metronome in his ear. Something that a lot of bands do, probably. But it was interesting to me, the technology that goes into creating a seamless performance that doesn’t get swayed or distracted by a rowdy crowd such as the one that night. The drummer’s technique was not only meticulous, but multi-faceted. He would play drums one minute, then a tiny little piano tucked away to the side of the stage almost out of view. Come to think of it, all of the band members did something unexpected at one point during the night. Like the guitarist, who was able to imitate the sitar sound that you’ll hear in this song, by using a metal slider on his finger and plucking extremely close. I was mindblown — but maybe this is common knowledge to people who play guitars religiously. I play, but I’ve never dabbled with different sound techniques. He also had this little clicker-clapper that added the tiniest difference to one song. It really made me realize that more bands need to be about the sonic experience, the live edits to their music, to keep things exciting and new for them and audience members alike. Alt-J does this magically.
This song holds a lot of meaning to me. It’s lyrical content is the story of two war photographers/lovers. The tone carries weight and sadness, shadowed by a pleasant musical experience for the ears. The perfect dynamic for a song such as this. Do yourself a favor and find a friend, hold them, and listen to this song. If you don’t already know it, your life is in for a treat.