@ the Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver BC June 4
Crystal Castles gave a blistering electronic performance that meshed together their digital eccentricities and powerful rhythms, producing an overwhelmingly cathartic, organic flux of a dancing crowd surrendering to their wall of sound.
The duo’s name originates after a sky fortress from the Mattel toy series called She-Ra, who was the twin sister of He-Man. The ferocity of vocalist Alice Glass’ raw, borderline-animal screams came across as borderline mythical during their rendition of “Courtship Dating,” giving her supernatural qualities.
The show kicked off with an energetic, strobe-light saturated debut, as Glass slinked onstage and adopted an intimidating, huge stage presence wearing a tube skirt and black button-up top, her eyes thick with black makeup, her trademark jet black bob throbbing to the basslines. She pushed everyone to the brink of epilepsy as she picked up the strobe light, flashed it in the faces of the entire front row as she screamed overtop the myriad of Nintendo sound loops.
Multi-instrumentalist Ethan Kath showed off his versatile musicmanship by flaunting his seamless transitions from turntable to synth, with a machine-like exactness, entrenched in the shadows of the stage in his hoodie like some kind of electric Darth Vader.
The most unique thing about Crystal Castles is their talent to create heat, chaos — all the elements of a natural disaster — without burning up in it themselves. Things got a little stagnant when Glass stepped off the stage for about 10 minutes while Kath entreated the crowd to some of the instrumental montages such as “Magic Spells.” When Glass returned, she was smoking a cigarette that she then tossed into the crowd before throwing herself to surf in it.
Their experimental, new-wave style of electronic music was particularly good during their performance of “Xxzxcuzx Me,” with the image of Kath pounding demonically on his synth while Glass jumped around the stage like a raging lunatic you didn’t want to stare directly at. Crystal Castles is uniquely aggressive, confrontational, and stylish to the point of viewer anxiety: and certainly isn’t for the faint at heart.