Live: Crystal Castles

HOUSE OF BLUES — 9/13/2010: On September 13, Crystal Castles came to Houston and caused a small amount of mayhem to ensue.

It was my first time going to a concert at the House of Blues, and I wasn’t really sure what kind of crowd to expect. For this show, that crowd turned out to be a lot of Hot Topic-clad pre-teens and a handful of fist-pumping college guys with their girlfriends — a pretty strange combination, which led to a few dirty looks and snide comments. More than one inebriated troublemaker had to be escorted off the premises during the concert. In summary: it was a little rough in there.

The opening DJ was pretty good and managed to keep the crowd hyped for a while. After the first half-hour, though, it became apparent that he was just filling up time, and by the end of the set — a whole hour long — a good portion of the crowd had lost interest. After the opener came a good long wait, during which the drunk girl next to me kept trying to start a “Cry-stal Ca-stles!” chant. Eventually, the huge curtains swept apart, and Crystal Castles frontwoman Alice Glass strolled onto the stage smoking a cigarette. That’s when all hell broke loose.

The mass of bodies all around me turned into a single violent, rollicking organism under the effects of Ethan Kath’s jagged beats and Alice’s heavily vocoded yelps. Alice, who very much plays along with the strange and savage little-girl image that’s attached to her, frequently threw herself into the crowd without warning and took swigs from a bottle of Jack Daniel’s on stage. Cohort Ethan Kath did a lot of really good improvised mixing and vocoding, flexing his creative muscles while Alice jumped around and screamed into the mic. What a charming duo.

About a half-hour into their set, the band abruptly walked off stage and the curtains closed, to the confusion and frustration of the audience. A minute later a weary-looking man poked his head out of the curtains and announced that we had all rocked out so hard that we set off the fire alarm, and that we would have to wait for the fire marshal to come reset it before Crystal Castles could come back. Thankfully, we didn’t have long to wait before they came back on and played one last chaotic song — “Intimate” — from the new album.

Alice left the stage with a painful-looking scratch on her cheek and dirty and torn clothes — a state comparable to that of the whole audience. Personally, I had fallen on my ass and been kicked in the face by a crowdsurfer, and I heard similar reports from my friends. But I can’t really complain about the wounds; what I can complain about, however, is the lousy way the House of Blues staff treated everyone.

We were shoveled out of the venue almost immediately after the music stopped by large and unfriendly men and were then made to throw away our drinks at the door by more large and unfriendly men. My timid request to finish my drink (it was only water) was answered by a string of loud and unnecessary expletives. It really harshed my post-concert mellow.

Disrespect from the staff members aside, this show was one of the best I’ve been to in quite a while. Crystal Castles put every ounce of their energy into the performance, and the audience was responsive in the best way possible. If those guys come back to Houston in the future, I seriously recommend going to see them — it’s quite a unique concert experience.


Live review by . Live review posted Tuesday, September 28th, 2010. Filed under Features, Live Reviews.

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One Response to “Live: Crystal Castles”

  1. Cory Sinclair on October 1st, 2010 at 4:47 am

    Holy shit, this show was amazing. My ears bled from the sheer intensity of the volume and my eyes melted coz of the lights. Alice won my heart, but such things might not be meant to last. I agree, everyone should see them soon enough because soon enough you might not be able.

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