Show Review: alt-J at Kool Haus

Toronto’s harbourfront was bustling with lively and questionably sober alt-J fans this past Tuesday night. Groups of scalpers gathered around the Kool Haus desperately seeking tickets to the sold-out alt-J show.

Once inside, eager alt-J fans forced their way across the sweaty dance floor to get as close to the stage as possible. The British band, reduced to a trio since Gwil Sainsbury‘s departure in January, waltzed on stage and without a second of hesitation, opened with their pulsing single,”Hunger of the Pine.”

The sonic journey continued as they played crowd favourites like “Fitzpleasure” and “Matilda” complimented by an amazing light show. “Left Hand Free,” while popular on the radio, served as a confusing detour to an otherwise bass and synth heavy set, largely pulled from alt-J‘s most recent album, This Is All Yours.


Predictably, the band closed with their smash hit “Breezeblocks.” But rather than speeding their way through an overly-rehearsed hit, they had to restart the song twice before getting it right. They laughed it off, and so did the fans. What would’ve been a concert cliché became the most genuine moment of the show.

Overall, alt-J felt disconnected from the crowd who came to see them. The Leeds-born indie rock trio proved themselves to be musically talented, but looked exhausted and barely spoke a word to the audience. The encore was short, and when all was said and done, I was in bed before midnight. No one was sure if alt-J wanted to leave the crowd begging for more, or if the band simply didn’t give a fuck anymore.

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