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REVIEW: Alex G - Live At Bowery Ballroom In New York
Photo by: @weallwantsomeone

REVIEW: Alex G - Live At Bowery Ballroom In New York

By: Jessica Gonzalez
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A review of the Alex G live at the Bowery Ballroom in New York.

 

Standing outside the entrance with a group of friends, Alex G blended in seamlessly with other long-haired, t-shirt clad young locals of the Lower East Side. “Hey,” he said to us after my boyfriend calls his name. Alex’s voice is low, casual, unapologetically collegiate. We had brought three of his records (Trick, DSU and the critically acclaimed, October 2015 release Beach Music) for him to sign in case we would meet him after the show -- it wouldn’t be uncommon at cozy, mid-sized venues like Manhattan’s Bowery Ballroom. Willowy in baggy jeans and construction boots, he walked past us and said he will after he finds some food.

We didn’t get to meet afterwards, though, as the 23-year-old Philly-based multi-instrumentalist and his Alex G draw an impressive crowd. Bowery filled up almost completely with young fans. Domino Records labelmates Your Friend and Porches also played opening hour-long sets to warm things up before Alex G took the stage.

They opened with “After Ur Gone,” the first track on 2014’s DSU. Alex swayed back and forth almost mechanically as he strummed his guitar and sang the five-line song with vigor. The Alex G immediately followed with “Soaker,” another DSU track. Usually acoustic, the track was given a definitive, curiously angry energy with Alex’s live voice and the accompaniment of a full Alex G.

More older tracks followed, played one after another without pause. The whole experience was akin to listening to an Alex G Live At Bowery Ballroom In New York at home in one’s room. He refrained from distracting between-song banter, only stopping once or twice for tuning. The stream-of-consciousness format complemented his music perfectly and captivated the audience completely. Remarkably, everyone’s full attention seemed to be on the music.

Occasionally compared to late singer-songwriter Elliott Smith -- whom he has acknowledged as an influence -- Alex G’s music is, at the end of the day, wistful and sad. But much like Elliot Smith, it also comes off as relentlessly honest and delicate. I had seen him previously early this year opening for Wild Nothing, where songs came off more slow and nuanced -- he incorporated some of the experimental sounds featured on his newest Live At Bowery Ballroom In New York. This time, however, his songs derived a different flair. He opted for a more frank, guitar- and drum-driven energy that reframed his songs and were the perfect dose of spirited, angsty energy for spirited, angst-filled fans (like me!). Either way, the feeling was still there as we all sang and swayed along.

Alex then played three songs from the new Live At Bowery Ballroom In New York in succession, culminating in “Salt,” which I personally felt was the climax of the show. It was his most felt performance of the night. The song itself is sleepy and moody, featuring a simple guitar part and (very) slight percussion. He sings in a high voice, straining as he somehow sadly assures he is “happy where I am.”

The crowd sang along to the next few older songs -- it was clear that everyone who came was more than familiar with the young songwriter’s discography. The Alex G picked up the tempo with such songs as “Forever,” “Mary,” and “Animals.”

He closed with the comforting, melodic “Brite Boy,” a song that was featured as part of Spin’s 2015 Year in Music recently with help from Girlpool. Markedly different from the rest of his set, “Brite Boy” was the perfect (almost) end to the show, as he of course was jeered on by the crowd for an encore. He satisfied fans with an acoustic performance of “Change.”

It is clear how he still feels close to the songs he has written and remains unjaded (enough) despite his recent rise to popularity. The emotion he offered during Friday night’s performance has confirmed this. I predict he will only get bigger from here -- so if you’re partial to anything lo-fi, try to catch an Alex G show sooner rather than later.
 
 
 
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