As I was waiting outside the venue last Tuesday night, I couldn’t help but overhear “I have been out here for 2 hours already; Alex G is practically the only thing I listen to anymore.” With a lineup of notable artists, the Alex G show at The Masquerade was incredibly stacked and had a packed house that loved every minute.
After a long awaited set last Tuesday night, Cende (pronounced send) immediately swept up Alex G fans by storm. With members pulling influences from other side projects they’ve been in (LVL Up, Porches) and finding inspiration in artists such as Beach Boys, The Nerves, and Arthur Russell, they were an incredibly strong start to an unforgettable night. Having members with profound experience in math rock, pop punk, and classical composition, Cende embodies a sound completely their own.
Touring behind their recently released full length album #1 Hit Single, this indie rock quartet brought a loud and powerful sound, contrasting what most were expecting. Opening up with their song “What I Want” (featuring Greta Kline from Bedroom-DIY artist Frankie Cosmos on the recorded track), the crowd was immediately struck with heavy guitar riffs, drums, and melodic synths. While most were unfamiliar and surprised with the band’s heavier sound, it was clear that Cende was a force to be reckoned with and they definitely gained a lot of fans following their unique and noteworthy set.
While Cende’s set quickly came to a close, the crowd was already buzzing about Philadelphia’s own, Japanese Breakfast. Fronted by the lovable Michelle Zauner, Japanese Breakfast opened up with an unreleased song off her forthcoming album Soft Sounds From Another Planet, due out July 14th via Dead Oceans. The audience was immediately enthralled with the calming yet emotional and upbeat soundscape that makes Japanese Breakfast so great. Giving the same amount of love and energy to her band as she did to the audience, Japanese Breakfast brought a presence to the stage that could not be missed. Stopping in the middle of the set to give a special shout out to Atlanta’s Art School Jocks, Japanese Breakfast truly felt like they were one of Atlanta’s own themselves.
Alternating between delicate vocals, powerful musical accompaniment, and an incredibly powerful stage presence, Japanese Breakfast managed to have everybody dancing and grooving. As Michelle closed with the single “Machinist” off their forthcoming album, she gave us a series of unforgettable sounds, truly showing us some Soft Sounds From Another Planet.
By the time Japanese Breakfast left the stage, the entire room in Purgatory was ready to welcome multi-instrumentalist (Sandy) Alex G. Alex G is an artist that tends to find a balance between the fine line that is quiet music and abrasive guitar licks, creating a personal experience for whoever may be listening. Contrasting the usual music that plays in between sets, the crowd was thrown off when all of the sudden “Life is a Highway” by Tom Cochrane was played late Tuesday night in the hot Masquerade venue and we see Alex G, accompanied by his band, walk on stage. Opening up with “Judge” off his brand-new album Rocket, the crowd immediately began shouting and swaying alongside his vocals which seem to draw crowds in using raw and powerful lyricism. As a live performer, the audience was still able gain a personal experience with a more intense approach, slightly contrasting the sensitivity and intimate nature of his recorded material.
Throughout the entirety of the set, Alex G managed to joke around on just about everything whether it be “The guy at the merch table who kept asking me about whether or not I’m Italian” or if anyone tried the new Cheeto sticks from Burger King. The audience was given a full-length interaction with him through his witty banter and electric personality. Whether it be sitting down by his keyboard during “Sportstar” or breaking out into moving guitar licks in “Brother”, each song managed to bring a new energy and wave of excitement into the crowd. As the night headed towards a close, Alex G began to tune his guitar once again stating “This is gonna be my encore I’m going to be taking requests from you guys.” After a practically unanimous vote for “Mary” off of his 2015 album Trick, the encore continued for five more songs and eventually Alex G thanked the crowd for all of the love and support.
As the packed venue at the Masquerade begged and screamed for one more song, the house-lights went up and the third and final band walked off the stage the exact same way they walked on, to the tune of “Life is a Highway” by Tom Cochrane. /- written by Emily Perlman
Check out our photo gallery of Sandy Alex G, Japanese Breakfast, and Cende at the Masquerade, all photos by Mike Gerry: