Wednesday night's Crystal Castles show at the Bluebird Theater was comfortably sold out, but it wasn't a cramped affair. No, it felt like being in a stadium that had “sold out” because some corporation bought a lot of seats. A scalper out front looked particularly lonely and downtrodden; he could’ve passed for a fan.
A couple near the sound booth was making out between sets. Her black-and-white-striped top matched her dark eyes, all of which invoked a Joy Division song. But her boyfriend was… a square. I’m talking a Ross Dress for Less, pearl-snap-shirt-wearing square. They were everywhere!
It wasn’t long ago that this show would have been nothing but tight jeans and cool hair. Now, beefy Braydens and Zachs were piled in at the front of the stage waiting to pump their fists. Is Amnesty (I), the duo's latest album, appealing to a broader/less discerning audience than their previous stuff? Has American Apparel been replaced by H&M?
Fog slowly covered the crowd, which gave off a ’50s-drive-in B-movie vibe. The house lights lowered, and LED lights strobed as the shadowy figures of Ethan Kath and Edith Frances emerged. Accompanied by a live drummer, Kath and Frances brought the dour dance party with songs from Amnesty (I), including the haunting banger “Concrete.” There was a second and third gear to the songs that took them past mere Kraftwerk idolatry; indeed, you can find a great dance beat inside such brooding.
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“Crimewave” had the crowd grooving so hard that it literally shook the floor. But just as the crowd was coming up, the duo slowed the party down and sent us into a k-hole with anti-bass drops. Mistimed fists pumped clumsily. On a dime, the LED lights were killed and the all-white overhead lights pointed at the performers, as if to remind us they were real people and not just androids for our entertainment.
By the end of the encore, the pounding bass and corresponding lights of “Wrath of God” repeated for well over a minute after the group made its final exit. The bass continued to build, leading to something (a possible second encore?). But, alas, it led to nothing. Darkness.
If last night proved anything, it's that Crystal Castles will provide the soundtrack for our dystopian future. The only thing missing from the show was some young punks shooting some futuristic drug into their necks. The abrupt, awkward ending whispered, “Oblivion is real, so why not dance into the darkness? Even if you are a square. "