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Crystal Castles Perform at
CMJ
Webster Hall
October 23, 2008

Written by Eric Atienza

 


CMJ’s annual Music Marathon is a showcase for myriad genres of music across most of lower Manhattan. The show from Toronto duo Crystal Castles had a pretty solid monopoly on experimental electro-dance music cutting jagged grooves and harsh yet driving beats all night.

Danish three-piece WhoMadeWho were the first to take the stage, in costumed glory. With standard rock instrumentation (guitar, bass, drums) and an avant-garde flourish (laptop/effects board, Danish accents) the group tore up the stage with heavy beats, noise-laden guitars and freakish, extra-terrestrial energy.

Gigantically bombastic, they were a hell of a way to start a night.

British-born Fujiya and Miyagi have been making waves in American indie circles since the first note of the first Bloc Party single hit the first indie-rock dance party of the new century. They are a band that defies general description. In one instant they are as electronic as straightforward rock can get, in the next they are dropping 80s synths into a whirlpool of funk and noise. They will occasionally hit a heavy bass groove, only to slip into winding trance-like swirl. Probably the slowest tempoed group of the night, they nevertheless engage making brain dance as feverishly as body.

If you haven’t yet been inundated with tales of the Canadian duo powered by a hardcore punk aesthetic, an Atari-enhanced keyboard, and some of the most cutting, compelling dance beats around right now, wait a few months and you will. They’ve positively blown up since their self-titled album dropped earlier this year and it’s not uncommon upon first listen to be unsure whether to dance or mosh. A heavy bass under MIDI effects put through heavy distortion set to straight up dirty beats will do that. Ethan Kath’s deft hand guides the Castles’ music through a few different genres picking up hooks, grooves, and no small amount of sex. The attitude, though, is all vocalist Alice Glass. Pure punk rock raver, Glass is all over the stage, the speakers, and the crowd unleashing positively raucous disharmony over top of the dissonant melodies Kath pours out. A Crystal Castles set is a wicked experience, equal parts 80s D.C. club and 90s abandoned warehouse, and 100% out of this world.

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