Concert Reviews

Crystal Castles at the Gothic Theatre, 5/2/13

CRYSTAL CASTLES @ GOTHIC THEATRE | 5/2/13 Last night's Crystal Castles show at the Gothic was not one for epileptics, with all the rapid flashing, seizure-inducing colored lights. The vivid visualizations kept pace with the accelerating tempos and deftly matched the dynamism and mood of the music itself. The blossoming columns of light made arcs and worked in unison with streaming starbursts of light, luminous cross beams and lines of illuminated dots, flares and flickers.

See also: - Crystal Castles: I hate myself for loving you - Review: Crystal Castles at the Ogden Theatre, 10/17/12 - Review: Crystal Castles at the Ogden Theatre, 8/9/10

Alice Glass was as commanding as usual with her vocals, which went from Kathleen Hanna-esque in moments of heightened emotional states to melodiously robotic and androgynously processed. Throughout the set, Glass struck dramatic poses that seemed more like a gesture of the moment rather than something entirely planned. The whole thing recalled a '90s rave, only it was more visceral and brimming with energy, which added a sense of heightened reality from the beginning.

The group meshed chiptune sounds, from what sounded like old Casio keyboards and analog synths, with nods to '80s and '90s electronic music. Glass's distinctive vocals were very present as the music moved through the audience on waves of low end. And not just one flavor of low end with electronic bass, but modified tones that flowed like an atmospheric element, pulsing along with the percussion. For this show, the band had a live drummer that backed up the tracks and created another dimension of texture to the music, especially with the cymbals.

For a set just under an hour and a roughly twenty-minute encore, Crystal Castles covered a lot of territory, playing the bulk of its third album as well as several tracks from II and a handful of songs from its 2008 debut. It felt like the band was performing hit after hit as it moved through a succession of tunes like "Crimewave," "Plague," "Kerosene," "Telepath," "Vietnam," "Suffocation," "Doe Deer" and more. Without any in-between stage banter, Glass was in constant motion.

With its intensity of emotion and the urgency of Glass's vocal delivery, this music is about something other than hedonism, as evidenced by subversive elements of the show, the burka-image backdrop from the cover of III, and lyrics that fearlessly discuss the realities of modern living beyond your immediate life.


Personal Bias: I've been a fan of Crystal Castles since hearing them do "Crimewave."

Random Detail: A whole lot of Joy Division was played before the Crystal Castles took the stage. Perhaps Trundle had something to do with that. No complaints in either case.

By The Way: I miscalculated the start time of the show and showed up just as Pictureplane was finishing up -- thus, no mention here in the review. Also, Crystal Castles didn't approve photo requests, hence no photos from last night.

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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.