On The List :: Alt-J @ Terminal 5 [3.24.13]

Ed. note: This review runs first and with outstanding photography on Bowery Presents' House List.

Alt-J revealed that last night’s sold-out show at Terminal 5 was their biggest audience to date. This admission came directly on the heels of the band’s third song of the evening, “Something Good,” which had directly followed the deeply haunting “Tessellate,” both of which had already removed any doubt that Alt-J, the quirky foursome from Leeds, could handle themselves in a room of any size. Surrounded by marine-style light fixtures—the kind of superfluity that Canvasback Music buys for you when you’re playing Webster Hall on Friday with a Terminal 5 chaser to close the weekend—the band then played “Buffalo,” a song from the Silver Linings Playbook soundtrack, another relatively small project that, like Alt-J, exploded into the hearts of many over the past calendar year.

The middle of the set contained “Dissolve Me,” both buzzing and brightly sanctimonious in its final moments. Next, “Fitzpleasure,” a song matched with a strobe and roving red tracer lighting, traded some of the mournful for more of the deeply tribal. With the low end of the arrangement firmly moving the audience, the band screamed their haunting harmonies into the rafters. Slowing toward the end of the main set, Alt-J played the charming “Matilda,” “Bloodflood,” which always sounds a bit like a cold-medicine “Baba O’Riley” live, and the methodical and chilling “MS,” featuring its eerie lyric “the dark seeks dark.”

The set closed with the figuratively murderous and cannibalistic “Breezeblocks.” Those in the audience moved around dutifully, fully in on the joke: No one was really going to die here, even in the dark, all together, singing along about a murder. Closing their encore with the predictably awesome and vaguely Eastern “Taro,” Alt-J left the stage, magnanimous to the end in their T-shirts and jeans, heirs to a growing sense of purpose and size. If this was their biggest gig to date, Terminal 5 represented nothing of a confine. Rather, on this night, it was merely the next spatial iteration for a group of incomparably talented songwriters and performers, likely, on their way to something even larger than three floors worth of 3,000 people.

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