I was not prepared for what was in store with Crystal Castles‘ set at the Fox Theater in Oakland. After hearing about Alice Glass’s reputation for fist fights and just utter madness altogether, I was half expecting some kind of hipster moshpit to open up right where I was standing. Not only because of Alice Glass’s behavior but CC’s music is to electronic music as Converge is to hardcore music.
What I mean by that is Crystal Castles relays on off-kilter noises and a distinct aggressive style that not only sets them apart from other electronic acts but inspires them as well. They are also known to attract scene kids like none other and the Fox was chock full of them. One guy went so far as to wear an entire Native American headdress with tradition garment. I don’t know what it is about Crystal Castles that possesses one to do that, but more power to ya.
Opening up with Bye and Fainting Spells, Ethan Kath stood nearly motionless while Glass used her extended microphone cord well by climbing around in the crowd and on touring band mate Christopher Chartrand’s drum set.
There was little stage banter from the group as they rocketed through both their 2008 self titled release as well as their latest self titled. I was surprised and very happy to hear Empathy played as well as pulling off the fun and a slightly heavier version of Black Panther.
And the crowd ate it all up. Something about this group of fans reminded me of seeing hardcore shows when I was a kid. There was a sense of community and connection that took over a majority of the audience. Concertgoers might not be able to decipher Glass’s vocals – her aggressively distorted delivery makes every shout sound like “kill” or “fuck” – but in a live setting, the content of her lyrics don’t seem important as the context and the crowd seemed to know that already.
Does this mean I became an instant fan of their live performances? Well kind of. If anything I realized that I’m too old for this. The willingness to let go and enter into such an insane live setting was all too familiar to me but this time with people wearing enormous black rimmed non-prescription glasses.
For fans of the group, seeing Crystal Castles is an experience that must be had. For anyone on the outside that isn’t accustomed to this combative live style; it might be threatening, noisy, and overbearing but it won’t be boring at all. That I can promise you.
[mp3] CRYSTAL CASTLES – PAP SMEAR from CRYSTAL CASTLES (2010)