Photo by Tonje Thilesen.
The strangest thing about (Sandy) Alex G’s set at the Brudenell’s new community room this evening is its eclecticism. To be fair, it directly reflects the Philadelphia-based singer-songwriter’s latest album Rocket – in its 42 minutes, it swans about from straight up Americana-inspired folk to brutal and screaming Prodigy-esque electronica, back around to the softly spoken indie rock that’s formed the majority of the project’s palette thus far. So tonight it’s no surprise that things are no different – at one point, country pop is soaring through the room’s high walls shortly before Giannascoli is thrashing through jazz chords on a keyboard, screaming gutturally into the microphone every few bars.
Giannascoli is cropping shorter hair than normal, and it adds a more serious tone to his face and thus the set’s delivery. He’s stoic throughout, containing an energy that finally cuts loose mid set with the synth-driven hat-trick of ‘Brick’, ‘Horse’ and ‘Sportstar’. Rocket dominates the chosen songs, but especially here, with the band breaking everything down into a seemingly endless noise jam before turning into jazzy lightness in album closer ‘Guilty’ and Beach Music belter ‘Brite Boy’, where tourmates Ó return to the stage to deliver a harmonious performance that’s close to the original recording’s intertwining vocal parts.
The best moments in the set honestly come at the expected points; ‘Forever’ comes early in the set, easing proceedings in, and a performance of ‘Bug’ soon after drives home the band’s main asset in Giannascoli’s grip on melody and pop songwriting. The live band brings the project’s lo-fi recordings to life with a faithful vigor, especially highlighted in their performance of these earlier songs.
A brief encore has a highpoint in the band’s performance of Icehead, with Giannascoli dropping from the recording’s falsetto to give the track a darker tone than normal. Although the band’s songs were short, they’re well contained, and give the overall setlist a cohesive yet driven edge – fluctuating between genres just as effortlessly.By Jowan Mead