Cave Painting do a splendid job of warming up the Harley tonight, sounding a little like Vampire Weekend but with the afrobeat turned down and the tropical turned up.
However, no matter how receptive they are of the Brighton five-piece, the crowd are here for one band, and one band only. Or are they? There’s a strange ambivalence in the air. The cheers are loud as Alt-J take to the stage, but an ungodly amount of people are – gasp – still talking as they launch into ‘Intro’, the opener of debut album An Awesome Wave.
Alt-J are on top form tonight; with only one album of material to run through, they make sure every track counts, with fan favourites such as ‘Tessellate’ and ‘Fitzpleasure’ being real highlights of the evening. Whatever technical difficulties the group seem to be having are pretty much unnoticeable, as the crowd sways in time to every song.
Well, when they’re not tweeting pictures of the band, that is. The rudeness of some members of the crowd is actually staggering; it’s hard to tell if the recent heatwave has brought out the worst in people (yes, guy in the headband, I’m talking about you) or if there are just a large number of people who want to be seen at Alt-J gigs, rather than enjoy them.
That aside though, tonight is a fantastic gig. Though we aren’t treated to an encore, Alt-J’s songs performed live exude even more energy and feeling than their recorded counterparts. It certainly has the power to get you excited for future material, and future gigs, though undoubtedly they’ll be in larger venues next time around. And, if nothing else, there’s something remarkably adorable about a band member sitting down cross-legged as the sample of an old woman asking “Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin” from An Awesome Wave hidden track ‘Hand-Made’.