Sunday, 17 February 2008

OH EM GEE: Crystal Castles // These New Puritans // The Horrors // Ulterior, @ The Astoria, 16/02/08


All my evil evil plans to go to many many many gigs this half term went along the way of track 4 of Lightspeed champion's debut album (look it up), but at least on the final saturday I got to go do some crazy dancing. The first band, Ulterior, seemed to be genuinely horrible people. Their sets started and ended with them positioning an electric guitar directly in front of an amp and leaving it there for a few minutes. Their myspace biography drones on about how they will preserve originality and ‘destroy the cult of the past’, which in theory is a good thing, but in real life they sound like an almost-as-good version of The Presets - whose debut album ‘Beams’ is soooo good, I can’t believe I missed it until a few weeks ago! (Oh, and they also have a new one out in April – more on that later.) Long story short, Ulterior have a few decent songs, but they could possibly work on their crowd-pleasing skills, instead of being tortured artists and 'invalidating all kinds of imitation'.

These New Puritans set started out slowly, but the crowd was full of goth teenagers with backcombed hair and too much eyeshadow who made themselves busy trying to look moody and unimpressed - it's hardly fair to blame the band for the complete lack of dancing. These New Puritans make leftfield indie music - their album is really good, with the exception of a few absolute rubbish ones. 'Numbers (aka Numerology)' is one of them. It is horrendous. It really does amaze me that a band good enough to produce some truly killer tracks ('En Papier', 'Colours', 'Infinity Ytinifni' for example) can make such an error of judgement that they think a 'Numbers' is worthy of playing. After being subjected to the worst song that band has ever made, things finally got moving when they played lead single 'Elvis'. I'm not going to run through everything they played as I have already forgotten them all, but the set was really very fun.

The venue was nearly overflowing with excitement when Crystal Castles took the stage, even some of the eyeliner and straighteners brigade got their backs off the walls. It was surreal, Ethan (is it Ethan or Ethin? or some people say it's actually Claudio) kind of sneaked on stage and made a few scary electronic gurgling noises before Alice ran on and the amazing 'Atlantis to Interzone' started. While it's technically a remix, in a live setting it can technically be regarded as a whole new song. It's amazing. One of the main complaints people generally have about Crystal Castles live sets is that they never play long enough, but this time the set went on for about an hour. 'Alice Practice', 'Air War', 'Mother Knows Best' and 'Crimewave' were all present - there were a few omissions (Where was 'Love and Caring'?!) but realistically when you're a band with about 30 different songs you're not going to be able to play them all. Due to my overestimating the robustness of my digital camera at some previous concerts I was megapixel-less for the show, but I bought a nice disposable camera for £2.50 and I'm currently waiting to see how the pictures came out. Probably crap. Oh, and it turns out my phone's video functions cannot cope with loud noise AT ALL, which means all the effort I put into trying to video one of the songs was wasted, because the backing track is solid white noise.

The Horrors played a set that was a complete anticlimax. All of their songs merged into one blurry graveyard screaming session. Knowing that I was not a massive Horrors fan I decided not to devote my efforts to being as close as possible to the stage and the band, but instead on voluntarily getting as hurt as possible in the moshpit (which I regretted a bit the next morning).

A quick note: If you are a person with massive white rasta dreadlocks, please do not combine this with being a person who jumps around at gigs. Everyone within a metre radius of you got whipped in the face with your massive disgusting hair and it actually really hurts a surprising amount and it's horrible and they smelt and there was a bit when part of one got caught in my teeth and a bit ripped off and got caught and I was nearly sick and of all the things that happened that night, the dreadlock in teeth moment was the one that came closest to ruining my weekend. Please consider others, and either stop going to gigs or get a haircut.


Julie Oakley said...

That last paragraph made me laugh so much I spewed coffee all over the floor. It should come with a health warning.

Anonymous said...

Ginngers and Blondies with dreadlocks - GROSS!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the warning, Julie. I put my coffee on the lightglass table, before reading. A great blog.