Wednesday, August 3, 2011


So for this sold-out, Crystal Castles show at Newport, I decided that for the first time, I wanted to watch the show from the balcony. One, because I learned my lesson about the misery of trying to dance in a tin-of-sardines-kind of a crowd when I saw M.I.A. at NYC's Hard Fest last year (and had a heavy storm come through and made it more miserable... go find the videos); and two, because I busted out the Rick Owens racer tank dress I gifted myself for my birthday and, although flexible and comfortable for a night of dancing, I don't think I trust its integrity rubbed against some sweating bodies. But cool story, let's move on with the actual show.

My two male buds and I arrived around 7:40 p.m. to 3/4 of the venue already crammed - the opening act didn't take the stage until 8:30! During that idleness, I pointed out to my friends a particular person in the crowd who may have, in the words of my friend Kent, "reached his peak a little too early." His enthusiastic jazz hands, hair whips, and air thrusts had us in hysteric. There was a good 30 minutes ahead of him before the show finally started. Poor dude couldn't hold it in any longer. The Columbus-based opener was not my cup of tea, but everyone else seemed to be gulping them up. To put it succinctly, whoever manned their lights should be paid generously, there was some rock 'n' roll (which I had little appetite for that night), and the keyboardist/vocalist would definitely do well in a mid-'00 Blood Brothers sounding band (which is not bad, really).

Crystal Castles finally went on around 10 p.m., though prior, members of the crowd and I speculated a possible second opener due to the presence of a drum set. (Did they always have a touring drummer?) Nope, that was for them, and of course the fogged up theater should have made it all more obvious. Amidst the flashing strobes in their hell of an impressive lights arrangement, they opened up with "Fainting Spells" and bulldozed through the first half of their set with all the hits. You couldn't see Ethan and Alice until "Baptism" kicked in, which is when their hunchback silhouettes had everyone go bananas and I'm practically losing my shit over the song's hypnotic trail. I've somehow managed to record the next song, "Courtship Dating," in its entirety (video below). If there was any problem I had about this show, it's that there were minor occasions, like the "Courtship Dating" performance, in which the vocals were hard to discern.

Sorry for the shaking camera. Can you blame a lady for dancing?

Alice will hand over anyone's ass in being the most energetic frontwoman for a live performance. Almost every time I come back from the dark, there goes Alice's feather-like body walking, sprawling, and fucking crawling through the sea of heads and hands gravitating to her beckoning like magnets. Those were the only instances of contact with the crowd, because otherwise they were completely removed. They did not check in on how the crowd was doing, verbally making it known that it's Crystal Castles on stage, or even said thanks. But really, is there any need or demand to break the mood with some small chat? Hell no. As the lights erupted and escalated like a fireworks show and hits like "Empathy," Celestica," and "Crimewave" (fuck yeah) had everyone feeling themselves up, and "Not in Love" had everyone nearly toppling over the balcony rail just to sing along, the group made sure that everyone was there to dance in their own ecstasy. If you didn't and you just stood there to "watch" them, then you're probably went bat blind staring at the violently pulsating strobe lights.

They came back onstage for the encore with not a word out of their mouth (no surprise there), and Alice comes out smoking a cigarette like a boss and swaying her shoulders and hips as "Intimate" slowly leaked out of the speakers. Two more songs came after that before they called it a night, but at that time my friends and I dashed to the door to avoid the crowd rush. And failed. It was in the rush that I noticed that the Crystal Castle male fanbase was total babe-topia, and it certainly wasn't saving me that these Josh Hartnetts and Simon Nessmans came through with shirts unbuttoned and hair side-swept behind their ears. (In Ohio?! How come I rarely see these men around?!) I met up with a friend who told me that being in the pit was, given the circumstances, surprisingly bearable. Now combining these two instances, I'm starting to wonder whether having all the free reign to dance on the balcony with this great view really was the better alternative.

Night accompanied by these lovely shits. I swear they were thrilled the entire night.

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