Article by Chris Chamberlain

Hype is a double edged sword. Especially if it builds up overseas, faster than a touring band can travel. Wednesday night at Hollywood's Fonda Theatre bore all the hallmarks of one of these shows. In a sold out theatre, kids pack out the front, tweeting and intermittently throwing a three fingered triangle salute. The rest of the venue seemed to be filled with curious but chatty 30 somethings, only vaguely intent on pinning down what all the fuss is about.

Sadly, I have a problem with the sound at The Fonda, and Alt-J cemented my doubts, though did not allow it to blemish their performance. The band create a sparse, ethereal atmosphere as they stand on a dimly lit stage beneath a glowing Delta. Keyboards and sub-y synths lay the groundwork, as vocalist/guitarist Newman's jaunty vocals soar over a swell of restrained rhythm from drummer Thom Green's cymbal-less, cowbell and piccolo kit, with the drummer occupying the brightest part of the stage. Clean, tremolo guitars fill in the highlights of their elastic, 'dub-like' sound, while the band themselves address their 'chillwave' label with a casual stage manner, dressed in a mix of aztec print hoodies, and caps. Meanwhile, keyboardist Gus Unger-Hamilton holds up the bands middle-class bookish look, also acting as mouthpiece to the audience between songs, thanking the audience on several occasions.

Within in the tight 45 minute set we were treated to several unexpected extras; the P.S.A.L.M.S. choir, led by Jason McGee from Glendale, accompanied the band on stage for 'The Ripe and Ruin', while 'Tesselate' and 'Taro' were bolstered with live strings, something I wished I could hear more of. Later, a mash-up of Dr Dre's 'Still' and Kylie's 'Slow' showed that Alt-J are still eager to start playing new things live.

It was also nice to see the whole band mingling with their fans after the show; this has been their largest U.S. crowd, and they were more than happy to follow up with photos and autographs. Backstage I was exposed to the streamlined efficiency of their setup; business and exposure is the priority, and they seemed to be on their best behaviour for an English band in L.A. I spoke to the band regarding their reception in America, and things seem to be going to plan. New York, Seattle, and San Francisco have welcomed them, and drummer Thom Green tells me that at their show in Ann Arbor, Michigan the front rows were filled with fans singing every word. Amazed, I say to Thom; "even your lyrics?!." He gives me a nod that tells me it was just as unexpected for him. Then they are corralled into the van by their tour manager - next stop, San Diego.