Photography: Stuart Moulding / @OohShootStu

Alex G

I Love Live Events @ Phase One 7/2/20

ALEX G is something of a pioneer in his field of complex, lo-fi grunge. The Philly artist recently released his fourth studio album House Of Sugar (though four more bedroom efforts lurk in the crevices of the internet) and it is another jewel in his catalogue. Experimental and glimmering, yet carrying an expectedly beautiful ruggedness.

It’s the first night of his UK tour in support of said record as he rolls in to Phase One. A tough job lies ahead. Even though this show was quick to sell out, you get a feeling that the packed room might have misjudged how they wanted to spend their Friday night. Conversations are loud, beers are being consumed and there’s a strange rowdiness in the air for a night which promises to be draped in detail, nuance and colour. After-all, though, Alex G is a masterful outlier who has played more than his share of tricky rooms over the years.

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He plays favourites new and old this evening, and it’s refreshing to see the figure on stage and in his element again. Through the consistent output of his unique emotive bedroom grunge, Alex G has become a cult figure in the eyes of his listeners, and with tracks like Bobby and Kicker on display tonight, it’s easy to see why. Newer songs like Gretel and Walk Away also sound the part. In these moments, the band muscle through the weird energy in the room and receive spirited applause from the crowd.

Despite all this, nothing seems to truly hit home in the way you’d expect it to. Some of the strange album breaks and interludes make for a disjointed listen and the set never really seems to find its flow. Maybe it’s because it’s the first night of the tour, or perhaps the time and place just don’t click on this particular occasion. Either way, you come away with a slight sense of disconnect between those onstage and those in the audience.

Although tonight’s show lacks that magic spark, you still leave with a huge amount of respect for Alex G and his band; it certainly won’t deter us from pulling our headphones on and delving into his remarkable catalogue. You also can’t deny the constant brilliance of the man as a songwriter and musician. For a boundary-pushing artist of his stature to be selling out a UK tour like this should not be overlooked, and in itself speaks volumes of his artistic merit. Tonight, unfortunately, there is just something amiss.

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