Whatever happened before or after Crystal Castles' set last night at the Ogden really didn't matter. In fact, Destructo and Sinden's pre-sets and whatever Rusko followed up with need not to have happened at all, for you see, Alice Glass and Ethan Kath (and a touring drummer) were compelling enough to blow the minds of even the most oblivious or intoxicated members of the crowd.
Around 11 p.m., a fog machine began filling the sweaty, cavernous venue as Kath and the drummer positioned themselves at their stations in the frothy dark. The epileptic strobes set in, and from the back corner of stage right, a small figure dragged itself across the floor. It was Glass, who soon exploded from her knees into the light, beginning her delightful, hour-long tantrum.
The squealing and clipping of Glass's microphone was slightly distracting through the early part of the set, but it wasn't long before the situation was remedied with a replacement mike. As her black eyes flickered in the blinding lights, a gentleman behind me uncomfortably muttered, "She is so hot. In a weird way."
Glass's vocals were hot, perplexing and torturous as she threw herself about in jolted movements, maneuvering her own tiny body in a strange and mesmerizing manner. Her tiny fits of panicked energy resulted in numerous crowd-surfing escapades, satisfying her masses with little glimpses of a touch of her black-shrouded body. She sang "Celestica" and "Doe Deer" with scary heart, swimming on her back on stage before bounding up and across the drum riser.
A devastatingly perfect version of their remix of HEALTH's "Crimewave" spun out from Crystal Castles' bodies, the glitchiness burning through the speakers and parroting out of the mouths of the crowd. "Air War" and "Empathy" burst with singular punches of brutal glory, all while Glass's every move kept the audience in total adoration.
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Besides the light and fog, a handle of what looked to be Jack Daniel's was Glass's only companion; Kath served as a silent, hooded conductor overseeing the evening's festivities and provided the underlying layer of musical terror that filled the sold-out Ogden Theatre.
With a pitchy and haunting "bye-bye" from Glass, the show was seemingly over. But the house lights never came on, and the band soon reappeared for a handful of encore songs, punctuated only by Glass dropping herself and her microphone on the floor repeatedly. When she felt done with the performance, Glass dropped the mike one last time before walking away from the throng for good.
Any negative notions I had about Crystal Castles before this show have since dissipated. Their punk ethos prevailed, and I have a hard time thinking there is anyone else on their level in popular culture today doing what they are doing. All of the glittering armor in the world couldn't make Lady Gaga as good as Alice Glass. No bullshit, all showmanship.
CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: I was on a mission to like Crystal Castles, much more than with their performance at Cervantes' last time around, when I slaughtered their set. Turns out I did like them. A lot. Random Notes: Glass had her own security, who scolded the Ogden staff for spraying water on the audience and making the floor wet. By The Way: There was a great visual parallel running between Crystal Castles and their fans: Glass modestly wore tights, Doc Martens and a dark, longish skirt and top -- and the hundreds of girls worshipping at her feet were in little more than underwear and glitter.