(Sandy) Alex G Keeps It Cool at the Boston Royale

You might not expect it, but Alex G is one of the coolest sports fans meets indie rock performer you’ll find strolling into Boston. In typical die-hard sports fan fashion, Alex Giannascoli, primarily known as (Sandy) Alex G, left the stage in the middle of his set moments after an audience member hurled a heated sports comment at his favorite football team, The Philadelphia Eagles. That’s exactly the power move Alex G can pull, sauntering off stage and returning unfazed a few minutes later to a puzzled audience. On the whole, Alex G delivered a legendary performance with nearly thirty of his wandering, sometimes emotional sometimes detached bops at the Boston Royale on November 17 to a rowdy and passionate crowd.

Before Alex G stormed the stage, opening acts Indigo De Souza and Tomberlin performed some of their favorite tracks including “Take Off Ur Pants” and “Seventeen” respectively in front of the packed crowd. Opening acts can offer rare glimpses into the main act’s musical inspirations and current favorite artists. Disappointingly, the Boston crowd on Sunday night showed little respect for the two opening singers and their emotional, heartfelt lyrics. The Royale’s expansive venue, open bar, and constant flow of audience members into the main standing room generated an unexpectedly clamorous ambiance during the opening act’s softer moments, and Indigo De Souza and Tomberlin’s intimate sets faced difficulties projecting over raised voices. Echoing the sentiment experienced in Boston’s rowdy crowd, Alex G recently tweeted out their hopes for more thoughtfulness during the opening acts:

To thunderous applause and hollering, Alex G calmly entered the stage to “Project 2”, the hypnotic instrumental track from his latest album House of Sugar. Immediately launching into “Gretel”, one of the most popular tracks from House of Sugar, the audience savored Alex G’s distinct and grounded performance style and the freshness of hearing his new album live. It was not long before Alex G entertained with a crowd favorite, “Bobby”. In this live version, Alex G phased in and out of using his acoustic guitar to hear his voice ring out into the venue and to let the audience chant along to the song. The live violin in the hallmark opening created a mystical, magical quality to the song that flowed into the remainder of his set. Other standout moments from the night included Alex’s heart-pounding rocking on the keyboard during “Brick”, a performance that bordered on hardcore metal. As a special treat, Tomberlin’s occasional vocals throughout Alex G’s tracks and her striking intimacy with guitarist, drummer, and Alex G himself unified the whole night, and the opening acts, into a complimentary performance.

As the night endured, the audience matched their energy with the acoustic and electric vibes outpouring from Alex G’s diverse cacophony of sounds — from his first warped and youthful album DSU to his ambitious and deeply revealing release House of Sugar. At some points, the crowd erupted into passionate and synchronized head-bopping — verging on erupting into tumultuous mosh pit. But mirroring the undulating flow from an Alex G album, the crowd would always scale back to controlled swaying.

When Alex returned from his short break after leaving the exasperated Boston sports fans, he relinquished himself to the audience. Eyeing a few fans in the center rows, Alex G called out, “Well, what do you want me to play?” to which the audience answered back with enthused and competing responses. Amongst the calls for “Sarah,” (which sadly did not make Sunday’s setlist) and “Sportstar”, Alex fulfilled his audience’s requests with his next song, “Sportstar”, enlivening and exciting the audience after his brief interlude.

Even with Alex G’s extensive swath of songs, the night ended all too early. Until the day Alex G comes back, Boston fans will be waiting patiently and thereby promise not to bring our controversial sports commentary into an Alex G concert.

Listen to (Sandy) Alex G’s new release House of Sugar:

Jess Eng is a DJ for Blues. Photo Credits by Jess Eng.