Photo by Scott Teresi. // (Sandy) Alex G is the perfect person to profile for my first post on alone at the show because he truly embodies what I call the “indie spirit.”
The “indie spirit” is when an artist does something for the pure love of it. No strings or perks attached. It’s when an artist creates because they have a vehement, intrinsic need to.
Starting his career by teaching himself how to layer tracks on Garage Band and slapping them onto Bandcamp for no one in particular, (Sandy) Alex G‘s intense, melodic sound helped bring bedroom rock back from the dead.
I guess I should first preface with why he’s called (Sandy) in parentheses. There apparently is some bubblegum pop singing chick in LA who’s legally trademarked the name “Alex G” barring Philadelphia bred Alex Giannascoli from using his own name. The first song he uploaded to Bandcamp was called “Sandy” and the name stuck pretty naturally with fans. I actually heard people referring to him just as Sandy at the Chicago show I got to attend.
I first discovered Sandy in a pretty unusual way. I got a notification from Facebook on March 2nd saying, “A page you follow posted for the first time in a while.” I’m pretty conscious of the pages I click like for so I was surprised I had no idea who the hell this was.
It was an announcement for a new album called “Rocket” with a link to the first single, “Bobby.”
I heard the first five seconds of that violin and was sold. The harmonizing vocals and crooning, repetitive chorus spoke to me in an unimaginable way too.
The vibe I got from this one song was a weird mix of very early Poi Dog Pondering with twangs of a traditional kilty band. It made me want to do a slow, mournful Irish jig. I was so confused as to how I had already “liked” this artist and had no fucking clue who he was.
Fast forward to the Chicago show after listening to Sandy’s diverse discography on repeat for weeks in a row. The openers were small bands named Cende and Japanese Breakfast who fans lovingly call J Brekkie. Cende was loud, fast and punk. J Brekkie was jamm-y and fun. And then it was time, I was ready to be taken to another dimension by the man himself.
And then out of nowhere “Life Is A Highway” (the cringe-y Rascal Flatts version) began blasting. I laughed. I figured the sound guy was trolling us or something. No, it was Sandy’s walk out music. And as the crowd screamed “I WANNA RIDE IT ALLLL NIGHT LOOOONGG!” I joined in because why not. I was alone at the show after all so it was comforting to have a moment of unison with my fellow goers.
And then he walked out. His long black, tousled hair and untucked, wrinkled peach button up made for an interesting contrast. He went for the guitar first. The crowd swayed and sang a little. Same for track two. And then on number three I felt myself lurch forward. There was a mosh pit forming behind me. They swung their arms, pushed forward and began to crowd surf. I felt my beanie rip off of my head and my water spill to the floor.
I had no idea this was going to be one of those shows. I have no problem with those types of shows but I just wasn’t prepared on this particular day. My personal concert philosophy is “front row or go home” so I did my best to stay close to the stage. I paid for this by having my glasses knocked off my face and catching them in midair.
Then the crowd calmed, then it got wild again, then Sandy sat at the keyboard and it calmed. Then he stood hovering over the keys screaming into the mic on the next song and I got punched in the chest. I still managed to dance and sing but really shout as many words to songs as I could.
I don’t think Sandy said more than ten words the whole show. And I was annoyed as hell by this. I had watched interviews where he was funny and social and nice and expected that with my ticket price. But on stage he was silent and serious, he barely cracked a smile. And I’m glad. He is an artist and he can do as he likes. More than that is he was teaching us. Communicating with his lyrics and not with his words. It made me realize Sandy is a lot more in touch than anyone in the room probably caught on to.
After the show, I walked up to him to say thank you. I made my hands pray and bowed to him. I also might have done a hailing motion with my arms so he really got the message I was appreciative. He said thank you back and from the tone of his voice I could tell he really actually meant it.
It’s so special and brave when independent artists decide to leave their bedroom and share their art with the world. It helps us all feel a little less alone and a little more #alonetogether.
Sandy’s sound can be all over the place. Listen to everything before you decide he’s a no go for you. Hence the head bobbing vs. crowd surfing at his show.
“Kute” which is pure fucking unadulterated poetry and “Sportstar” where he redefines what lo-fi can mean.