Last night saw Alt-J’s much awaited debut in Southampton, where Thom from the band performed a DJ Set at RoXX. Thom plays drums for Alt-J and DJ’s as a solo act; one of his biggest credentials is being booked to play a DJ set at Reading and Leeds festivals last year. Supported by DJ Little Chief, and live bands PELLA and iremembertapes, it made for a diverse night. Early bird tickets had sold out weeks before the show – a steal at a fiver – and the show succeeded in attracting a room full of pretty young things ready to dance the night away. Sadly DJ Tom Dyer was a no show, but the line up didn’t feel at all incomplete.
Little Chief’s DJ set stood up as a first support act, helped by some specific choices, namely track of the moment Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’ and the ever popular ‘Midnight City’ by M83, perhaps better known as the Made in Chelsea theme.
The transition between DJ and band was somehow more seamless than usual, with PELLA taking to the stage just past ten. Short, punchy tracks from guys holding their guitars really high provoked endless comparisons with Foals from those I went to the gig with, to the extent that they gave the impression of a Foals tribute band without any songs you recognise. However, Foals are incredible musicians, and PELLA could really come into their own if they focus on developing their identity as a band. A slightly quiet mic and a somewhat muffled PA system at this point probably didn’t do them any favours and I feel we didn’t witness their full potential.
Main support act, Winchester’s iremembertapes were a real highlight of the night. A high energy set from beginning to end, percussion was the real strength of the band, with vocalist Tom Ferry both singing and sporadically (and enthusiastically) banging on a drum at the front of the stage. Their layering of indie riffs, groove and passionate vocals filled the dance floor. Even though the band is signed – to record label ‘The Animal Farm’ – they gave out free copies of their debut album ‘Human Architecture’; obviously a massive crowd pleaser. People looked genuinely excited to be given them, which is indicative of the good reception the band received. However, a quick scan of YouTube reveals that they are one of those few bands that are considerably more remarkable live – their energetic, un-produced sound being the basis of their set.
It was past midnight when Thom Greene, of Alt-J, got on the decks. He is obviously a skilled DJ, which you would expect from a member of a band with such incredible musicality, but it felt as though he wasn’t quite sure whether to acknowledge the band that made him famous or not. There was obviously a general desire for him to play remixes of Alt-J tracks, and whilst I think we got a few snippets at some point, and there was evidence in his DJ’ing of the entrancing, moody sound of his band, I don’t think his set justified the plastering of the name ‘Alt-J’ all over the promotion for the gig. Thom’s set wasn’t a particularly stand-out performance, but I can see that he is in a difficult position musically, and is perhaps judged more harshly as a DJ due to high expectations.
The fact that all four acts were of at least ‘good’ quality meant that the ticket price was easily justified and a complete steal for the early bird-ers and those that picked up a copy of iremembertapes’ debut.
Alt-J are currently touring their debut album An Awesome Wave in the UK. You can buy tickets here. They are also booked for several summer festivals including Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds festivals and Latitude.