Review: Alt-J sells out SOMA

English indie rock band alt-J played an extravagant sold-out show at SOMA on Friday night fusing together a set that perfectly balanced their old songs and the songs from their brand new record, “This Is All Yours.”

This was the sixth show on their fall tour and alt-J (commonly referred to as ∆) treated the enthusiastic San Diego crowd to the unique sounds of hypnotic drums, mesmerizing vocals and unforgettable art-rock synths.

The lads were preceded by the electronic gospel band, Lovelife, at 8 p.m. They played an energized dance set which was wrapped up with their banger, “Dying To Start Again.”

According to lead singer Joe Newman, they have been friends with Lovelife for a while.

“We met four or five years ago through our guitar tech and have played shows together in the past,” he said to the Point after the show. “They’re mates for sure and we love to hang out with them.”

At 9:30, alt-J came out strong playing “Hunger of the Pine,” their Miley Cyrus-sampling single from their new record, followed by the a capella-turned bass blasts hit “Fitzpleasure” from their first record, “An Awesome Wave.”

“Something Good,” “Left Hand Free,” and “Dissolve Me” followed inciting intense reactions from the crowd such as tossing crowns and signs onto the stage and chanting in unison, “Oh, something good tonight will make me forget about you for now!”

Then the band played “Matilda” and “Bloodflood Part 1 & 2” before hitting the best streak of the show. “Intro + Tessellate” had people swaying, hands lifted; “Every Other Freckle” was a fun blend of multiple fascinating sounds; and “Taro” had a dazzling light show to accompany it’s catchy piano riff.

“The Gospel of John Hurt” was an unexpected brilliant performance after which the band exited the stage. Not surprisingly, they soon returned to please the chanting, clapping crowd with a three song encore.

They played “Lovely Day,” the bonus track off their new record first, “Nara/Leaving Nara” next, and finally, they closed with their most popular song about a love grown dark, “Breezeblocks.” The crowd went bonkers as the band jammed to their final song and everybody in the venue joined in singing, “Please don’t go, I’ll eat you whole, I love you so!”

From start to finish, the band exuded vibes through their excellently crafted music that had people eyes shut, hands lifted and dancing in a trance-like state of happiness. It’s safe to say this concert left fans pleased by and grateful for alt-J’s gift of music.

alt-J formed in Leeds, England in 2007 at Leeds University. The quiet hours policy in their dorm prevented loud noises like drums and bass, which led to the development of their unique cymbal-free sound.

The new record, “This Is All Yours,” released on Sept. 22, went straight to #1 on UK’s Official Albums Chart. Since the former bassist Gwil Sainsbury’s departure in January, Cameron Knight has been an excellent addition filling in on tour.

“I auditioned for the part and got it,” said Knight. “It’s a sweet gig and the guys in the band are very cool so we’ve been becoming homies.”

The drummer of alt-j, Thom Green, came out after the show to greet fans along with the others. His favorite song to play on the new record is “Hunger of the Pine.”

“It’s a little bit of a tricky beat but it’s a fun one too,” said Green.

alt-j will continue playing mostly sold-out shows on the rest of their US tour, according to their band web page, before embarking on a Europe and Australia tour in the spring.

SOMA is a local music venue in the Midway neighborhood of San Diego which has seen the likes of blink-182, Stone Temple Pilots, The Ramones, Smashing Pumpkins and Weezer in its early years. Switchfoot and Dave Matthews Band also graced its stage which was transformed into a concert venue from a movie theater. The location was given its name in the early ‘90s when it was downtown off Union Street, south of Market Street and thus dubbed “SOuth of MArket” or SOMA. Their performance schedule can be found here.

Photo: Jonathan Pickett
Photo: Jonathan Pickett