Post image for Something (very) Good – Alt-J at the Star Theater

Something (very) Good – Alt-J at the Star Theater


I think the proper British term for how I was feeling on Saturday night would be absobloodylutely gobsmacked! alt-J are truly the dog’s bollocks!

…that last slang felt awkward, but I dare you to use it on a regular basis. If people think you’re a wanker, you can tell them I dared you and direct them towards this article. It’s sly blog networking, people!

A Little Background

alt-J  a.k.a. (how very Prince-eque!) are a British quartet that don’t really fit into one genre. Are they alternative? Indie? Rock? Folk? Electronic? Hip-hop? Pop? Experimental? Unique? I like to think they’re a dash of everything. The delta sign is created when you hold down the alt key on your keyboard and press j on a Mac computer. The band reported that, just as it does in mathematical equations, the delta is used to represent change. It’s the most hipster and bad-ass of all band names! Their debut album An Awesome Wave (cop it) was released at the end of May 2012 in the UK and us sorry North American’s didn’t get see it released until September. I think we can all agree, 1. Thank (deity of choice) for the internet and 2. It was worth the wait.


Gus Unger-Hamilton, Joe Newman, and Gwil Sainsbury. Not pictured: Thom Green on drums

About The Magic That Was Their Live Show

My live music bender continues…

My friends and I arrived at the Star Theater a bit before show time and secured some spots really close to the stage. The venue is small but it has a lot of character and the acoustics are always on point. I’d never been to a sold-out show at this venue and let me say that I was happy that we turned up early. By the time alt-J hit the stage, the place was packed to red velvet draped rafters but I think the tight quarters had a lot to do with the utter awe that I felt Saturday night; we got to see a big band in a small venue and few things are as special as that.

The opener was an Los Angeles band known as Wildcat! Wildcat! I’d never heard of them before the show but I was impressed. They don’t really look like your typical LA band, if that’s even a thing. The lead singer with the long hair looks like he shreds at Burnside on the daily and he has enough keys on his belt loop to make you wonder if he’s a janitor on the side (I checked, he’s not). The drummer has a hefty beard that can be likened to that of an Oregon craft brewer or a professional woodsman (I checked, he’s not either). Despite their Pacific Northwest appearances, they are truly from the city of lost angels and this was their first show out of California. Crazy considering how talented they are! I read on their Bandcamp that they have known each other/made music together since they were 14 years old and this really shows in their on stage compatibility. Everything works with this band; synth-heavy baselines, falsetto vocals, and on point harmonizing. Wildcat! Wildcat! is dream pop at its finest.


Wildcat! Wildcat! and some guy’s head. Not pictured: drummer due to guy’s head.

alt-J came on stage and my heart beat a little faster. I’ve been waiting to see them live for what felt like so long and it was finally happening! (A cancelled Portland show in September left me devastated. Shout outs my friend Daniel who got us tickets to see Tycho as a pretty sweet consolation). I heard alt-J’s track Breezeblocks for the first time in early May, a little before their album was released in the UK. I was immediately hooked from start to finish and it was my mission to tell everyone I knew, and many that I didn’t know, about this album; “Oh you like bacon? Well you might like this band alt-J then!” I took any opportunity to share these tunes and I was so excited when someone I told got hooked on their music too.


Lead singer, Joe Newman, getting all kinds of into it.

The live show delivered exactly what I hoped it would. Their layered instrumentation and distinctive vocal harmonies translated perfectly live. They played almost all of the songs on their debut album and a couple of fantastic newer tracks. The music was was loud, the base was heavy, and the crowd was dancing and singing along. The band is adorable and they come across humble despite the accolades that they’ve been acquiring as of late. In case you haven’t heard, alt-J were recently named the winners of this year’s prestigious Barclaycard Mercury Prize. That is sure to bring them a lot more attention than my street preaching ways have. On behalf of Portland, many thanks to Alt-j for giving us all you’ve got on Saturday night at the Star. I felt like I was a part of something truly special and I won’t soon forget it.

Oh something good tonight will make me forget about you for now…



Triangles are my favorite shape…but you’re doing it wrong, ladies.

alt-J are coming back to Portland on April 8th at the Wonder Ballroom; it’s a much larger venue but probably still not big enough for the Portland fans. It’ll sell out fast so those of you who missed out on this show, I highly suggest you get your tickets soon (NOW!). Readers from other parts of the world, check out their tour dates here. Before the Wonder show, I get to see these guys at SXSW in March so I’m sure you’ll be hearing all about it here on WAS. Eeeep!!

Until next time, this was a very lucky Jenna at Wait And Scene going to all of the shows so that you don’t have to….but blimey you really should! 😉


P-Tom the Phenom December 18, 2012 at 6:35 am

There you go again, WAS doing all of the research so I don’t have to…
How do you know that Alt-J ∆ is going to be playing at SXSW? I mean now that I look at the tour dates it makes sense, they’ll be in the general area before and after SXSW but I just didn’t make the connection.
Great pic’s btw!! So what’s next for WAS? I guess I’ll just have to wait and scene..jk I’ll prob be there too.



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