While waiting in the cramped space between the stage and the barricade for the arrival of Crystal Castles, the rising tension and body heat were both almost too much to bear as a sold out crowd jammed to the front to wait impatiently for the distorted bass and shrieking analog synthesizers of Ethan Kath paired with the ghostly caterwaul of Alice Glass.
Both members of the band started their music careers in punk bands and it shows. Playing extremely progressive and at times lo-fi electronic dance music, Crystal Castles made a name for themselves by blasting our eardrums with their albums their 2013 effort III and 2010's eponymous sophomore release. With Alice on vocals, it frees her up to put on a great live show. On Thursday night, she ran from across every inch of the Observatory stage, standing on the drum kit, to putting herself in the crowd, whatever she could do to stoke the fire behind an amazingly brutal set.
Although after being forced to leave the barricade and told not to take photos of Crystal Castles by the bands tour manager, in the sea of cell phone camera's I was able to sneakily take a few snaps. Between the darker red or blue lighting that cloaked the stage, keeping an eye on Glass was almost impossible.
A major part of the experience Thursday night was the light show. The lighting was pulsating with the beat; there were red and blue stage lighting that flooded behind Glass and bled over Kath, who stood at in front of his keyboard rig the entire show. Alice danced as strobe lights gave the crowd stop-motion view of her emerging and being devoured by the fog that completely filled the Observatory.
Added to Crystal Castles lineup was a live drummer. The band now is in a complete analog direction and has gotten away from using computers to bust out their glitchy punk sounds. The drums were mixed perfectly for the bands set which is, they basically stood in the far background of what KAth was playing and didn't disrupt Glass's vocals. Not exactly adding to the sound, but not interrupting it either. On the end of “Wrath of God” was a drum solo accompanied by and highlight of the onstage light show that encompassed the band all night.
Opening up the show were Burger Records' rising stars The Garden. Twin brothers Wyatt and Fletcher did their best to interact with the crowd but seemed mostly to confuse them. Between Fletcher's see through lace shirt and the strange Native American sounding chants Wyatt was yelling over the microphone, I'm not sure they came across well.
By the end of the night, the show had come together far better than expected. From online videos and a pretty good knowledge of the band, I expected Alice's singing to be completely off. She's usually very intoxicated, whereas her Observatory performance seemed a little toned down. Maybe it was less entertaining, but it was definitely a better sounding set.
The Crowd : Leftover scene kids and anti-PLUR rave enthusiasts