Tuesday, 21 August 2007

A Punch In The Face

Photo Credit: jez cave
After Lethal Bizzle, we headed to the Myspace stage to see Crystal Castles at the Myspace Stage. It was really annoying, because they had scheduled Crystal Castles at the same time as cooler-than-thou Parisian sex pests The Teenagers. Crystal Castles and The Teenagers are both blogosphere and personal favourites, and I was torn as which to go to. In the end we decided to go for Crystal Castles, because they were
a. WAYYY more energetic, and we were feeling pretty pumped after our half hour of shouty hip-hop.
b. From Canada, so therefore more likely to be elusive for future live performances.
c. Not performing in a circus tent, and we'd heard the Converse/Artrocker tent where the teenagers were in had a rubbish atmosphere.
Before CC came on, the crowd were rapidly filling with anticipation for their arrival. A screaming chant of 'CRYSTAL CASTLES! CRYSTAL CASTLES!' started out, and it quickly slumped into an all-out wail of joy as Alice and Ethan appeared onstage, sipping from cans of Stella Artois (Shock! Horror!) and eating from a pack of marshmallows.
I will now refer you to a review that appeared on blog bible Drowned In Sound:

"To really be effective, Crystal Castles’ malevolent, malfunctioning eight-bit terrorism needs to be loud enough to envelope the audience in its pulsing dark heart, to wash over you in ferocious, asphyxiating sheets of warped two-dimensional Gameboy glitches and bruising drum bombast that pierces your skull with their sheer shrill force, burrowing deep into the brain like a fever. As it is, owing to those considerate chaps at the Tower Hamlets council and the stifling acoustics of the inflatable stage on which they play, the would-be caustic choir of end-is-nigh sirens that layer the huge ‘Atlantis to Interzone’ remix with which their set begins sound more like a police car siren drowned at the bottom of a canal, Crystal Castles a shadow of themselves."
- Jack Shankly.

I Completely Disagree With This. The crowd were in a frenzy, the sound was almost deafening, and although I am no sound engineering expert, I am almost certain that Jack Shankly isn't either, so neither of us should comment on the abilities of an inflatable stage to project sound. I was more than enveloped in the music's pulsing dark heart, and the adrenaline rush was insane. Serious crowd surfing started, and the security were giving all crowd-surfers a decent telling off, (is it for insurance purposes or something?) whilst also finding the perseverence of some peoples' repeated attempts to surf to the front hilarious. The pit was open and as the ferocious, asphyxiating sheets of warped two-dimensional Gameboy glitches washed over me I was inspired to run in, fists waving, until I was pushed out by three different people roughly twice my size. Usually I am one to shy away from the actual 'moshing' but repeatedly I was going for it, especially when killer track 'Alice Practice' came on. This is one of those songs that is repeatedly referred to as having completely indistinguishable lyrics and for some reason I feel really proud of myself when I manage to work out what some of the satanic-sounding lines are, such as 'Drop it: it's dead' at the 1.57 mark. Despite the fact nobody could understand any of the words that vocalist Alice was throwing at us, a huge amount of the crowd were still shouting something along to the tune.

The set was perhaps the most surreal half-hour of my life: everything about Crystal Castles spells out something that shouldn't work as music. Incomprehensible screaming in place of singing, minimalist 8-bit instead of backing music - everything is wrong, wrong, wrong - yet somehow manages to be right. Looking at their t-shirt design, Madonna with a bleeding black eye, it's like they have taken everything about conventional music, boring popular music in particular, and punched it in the face. It's unlikely Crystal Castles are going to take over the world, and if they ever get a number one I will eat my own wardrobe. Thinking about it, it's a miracle that a band so truly innovative, unorthodox and downright weird have enjoyed the mainstream appraisal that they have. I love Crystal Castles!
DOWNLOAD: Klaxons - Atlantis To Interzone (Crystal Castles Remix)


"didi" said...

haha nice i got a laugh out of reading your review. CC rocks!

Adam said...

Yeah, I was there.

It was nuts.
I almost had a heart attack.
In a good way!

Godd review, mate.

Anonymous said...

It isn't THEIR tshirt design. It's TREVOR BROWN's tshirt design,

Tom Oakley said...

Yeah i only just heard about this.
It's quite an interesting story, I might have to write about it.