On the UK leg of his tour, (Sandy) Alex G graced our very own Brudenell Social Club with his whimsical tracks and nuanced elctronic rhythms. Our online music editor Andrea Loftus headed down for a Grapefruit Beer and an evening full of the unexpected.
You could predict the crowd aesthetic to a tee, the hoards of wire rimmed glasses wearing boys piling in from the brisk February night alongside bleach headed girls stomping their DMs on the rusty carpet to regain some feeling in their feet.
The artcic blue beams bathed support band Pet Shimmers in a chilled glow as their mellow psychedelic rock sounds spread over the growing audience. If you heard them through the double doors you would assume you’d seen them before, their typified indie melodies not wholly original in today’s charts. The rotating disco ball flecked light onto the faces of the melting-pot band, the lead wouldn’t look out of place in Mumford & Sons whilst the guitarist and vocalist was the double of Saoirse Ronan in Ladybird. Four guitars on one stage could seem like an overkill, but the acoustic melding melodies were enough to warm up a very windswept crowd for the much anticipated man of the hour.
Taking to the beloved brick-backed stage, (Sandy) Alex G (Alexander Giannascoli) had an overwhelmingly calm demeanour that directly contrasted the buzz from the audience, taking up the maximum capacity of the space with buzz-cuts and Mullets left, right and centre. The American musician based in Philadelphia began his music career with a series of DIY releases, developing a fan base that patiently waited since 2017 for the release of his latest album House of Sugar.
The set list began like a sporadic shuffle of House of Sugar, starting with the crafted ‘Project 2’ and immediately following into ‘Gretel’ and the iconic ‘Souther Sky’’, the electro-jazz melody enveloping the already entranced myriad of Leeds locals. Dipping into his back-catalogue, tracks like ‘Bobby’ and ‘Brick’ from his 2017 album Rocket were interwoven into the sonic narrative of the night, joined by crowd pleasers like ‘Kute’ from his 2015 record Trick and ‘Mis’ from his sophomore album Rules.
The endearing characteristic about Alex G as an artist is the candour his nuanced lyrics convey whilst the man behind the chords retains a degree of anonymity. As the electric blue beams bathed the musician in melancholic rays, he continued to dance between the keys and the strings like it was as second nature. The genre-evasive technicalities of his tracks supersede the confines of a traditional album, the absence of stylistic continuity in his records plays as one of his strengths. Though his stage presence is lacking compared to over-animated musicians, it feels like he doesn’t need to overcompensate in this way, allowing the diversity of the set list to signify his ability to devise unique and expressive music within minimal means.
The highlight of the gig was undoubtedly the never ending encore, one that lasted almost as long as the set itself and was devised by asking the crowd to shout-out requests and arousing some competition. We stood amongst the heckles to see whether he’d choose the pleas for ‘Mary’ or ‘Sarah’, and how long he’d made us wait for ‘Southern Sky’, his emblematic stand-out composition. His older tracks sample nursery rhymes and Nintendo soundbites, the influences and inspirations of his archetypal sound colliding and conflicting to the glee of his enthused fans.
Closing his set with a beautiful rendition of ‘Change’ and asking us to buy his roadie/merch guy/best mate a shot for becoming a new dad, the pony tail clad mystery bid Leeds farewell. With an unexpected cover of Blink 182’s ‘What’s My Age Again’ and a bit of Rascal Flatts to see us out the door, it’s safe to say the punters were left as bemused about his stylistic influence as when they arrived, but how can you be mad about it when the beauty of the man is the mystery?