Despite high ticket prices of $40-$51 and the show taking place on a Wednesday night, a huge crowd came out to the Ogden Theatre to watch Crystal Castles blast out distorted, seizure-inducing Nintendo beats produced by Ethan Kath, overlaid by the dissonant but strangely charismatic vocals of Alice Glass.
It’s difficult to describe what Crystal Castles sounds like, because there has never been anyone quite like them. Wikipedia has them down as synth punk and dreampop, but at the end of the day, that’s still putting them into a genre that doesn’t totally fit. The band itself seems to refuse any attempt at defining the sound. Fans’ ecstatic conversations taking place outside the Ogden after the show came to the general consensus that Crystal Castles sounded like a couple of punks killed the DJ at a dance party.
Crystal Castles’ next album comes out Nov. 5, so the show was in a strange limbo between songs off of the new album that most in the crowd had never heard before, and older, well-loved music, that the fans knew every word of. The mixed setlist worked to Crystal Castles’ advantage, blowing minds with a new song, then drawing back to their classics to keep the crowd with them. Although the band seemed like they could have cared less if the crowd was along with it or not.
The crowd dances at Welcomfest 2012. Crystal Castles performed at the Ogden Wednesday night. (CU Independent/Amy Leder)
Kath never acknowledged the crowd Wednesday. Glass did, but she used them as a prop. She dove from the stage and stood on the rolling sea of faces, hands, heads,and shoulders. Glass created a jerking, intoxicated platform where she broadcasted her depths-of-a-well style vocals in an increasingly startling fashion.
The problem with seeing Crystal Castles live is there is no personal connection between the band and the crowd. There are no chatty song breaks or introductions, no real acknowledgement that there’s even anyone listening. However, that’s sort of the point. It’s art, no holds barred. Kath is known for wearing hoodies and long hair to obscure all or part of his face. He also goes by a number of aliases, creating confusion about his real identity. And Glass? Well she’s been known to put cigarettes out on fans, spray them with her always-handy whiskey drinks and punch security guards.
Crystal Castles has no qualms about the image they’re selling, that of carefree middle fingers to the world accompanied by wild screaming vocals and jarring beats. The disrespect Crystal Castles shows to the crowd is similar to that of an egotistical jerk intent on sleeping with an insecure girl. The band puts the audience down slowly until the crowd falls in love and looks for any way to redeem themselves, despite the fact that the fans did nothing wrong in the first place.
The vibe of a show, as represented by the crowd, bent from hardcore to dreampop to noise. The Chillwave-styled hipsters raged just as hard as studded vest-clad punk kids. The wildly bouncing silhouettes were indistinguishable through the hazy flash of stage lights. There was no regard for personal space. The push to the front, in hopes to have a chance at being stepped on by Glass, kept the audience surging forward. The throbbing 8-bit beats induced uncontrollable pogoing and thrashing.
A Crystal Castles show is more than a concert, it’s an experience. The music is incredibly clear and interesting. The fact that the band has achieved its current level of success off of just two albums is only indicative of their future trajectory. The seemingly overpriced $40 ticket is worth the show. But don’t forget to show up in clothes with no sentimental attachments.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Jacob Spetzler at Jacob.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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