It was a cozy Friday night at Alphaville in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The Sammus record release party was to begin at 9 P.M featuring Sad13, Vagabon, Alter and Sammus. I had been invited to see the first act by Wolf, my co-worker and lead singer of Alter. Alter is a four-piece musical project comprised of lead vocalist/lyricist Wolf Weston, back-up vocalist Namarah McCall, drummer Jason MacDermott and Steven Dewey on production, samples and backup vocals. Alter describes themselves as a band that “wears many faces” and this translates in their live performances. I could attempt to compare them to another artist that you may like, but it would be a waste of time.Wolf’s soulful voice is filled with truth and demands the attention of everyone who surrounds her. To try and define what they made me feel that night would be far too difficult, but my jaw dropped immediately upon hearing Wolf sing and I knew I’d never miss an Alter set again.
“Come closer guys, I need to touch somebody!” Wolf invited the crowd forward after the third song, who was standing the reluctant few feet back – the way most audiences do in a small venue prior to the headliner’s set. In my experience, an artist trying to engage the crowd this way works 50% of the time at best. Tonight, they charged forward towards the stage enthusiastically, they were mesmerized.
Alter’s set was a breath of fresh air, a much-needed reminder of the power music has to be uplifting, to make us lose ourselves in our own thoughts. We could’ve stayed there all night with Alter, there’s just something effortless about their sound. Perhaps it’s the way they’re unafraid to challenge the concept of genre: one moment you’re thinking tUnE-yArDs and Alabama Shakes, the next you’re at a Whitney Houston dance party. You hear Carribean influences, you hear rock, hear hip-hop. I even found myself thinking of Vince Staples and Tyler, the Creator. You can hear the artists that have influenced Alter, but more importantly, you can feel how organically they arrived at their own sound.
“How much time do I have?” Wolf asked with a few minutes left to spare.
“10 HOURS!” shouted a man from the crowd.
“DON’T GET OFF THE STAGE!” cried another.
Alter is one of those bands you should experience live for yourself. That night I felt lucky to know Wolf Weston – a healer, both on and off the stage. Aside from being the kind of co-worker who makes the work day go by faster with her positive energy, I learned that night that Wolf is someone with a very special gift, she is a woman who can make world a better place simply by doing what she loves. When Wolf is onstage, she looks like she’s home. We need more music like Alter’s right now, more artists who are unafraid to venture out into all territories and claim them as their own. In a world that seems to become more drained of it’s originality everyday, we should take a moment and be grateful for bands like Alter who are keeping innovation alive and well.