Show Review: Crystal Castles (Sea of Phones) @ Music Hall (4/21)
Let’s just call Sunday what it was: a horrific sea of phones. It’s clear to me now that Crystal Castles have blossomed into a deserving huge act, which unfortunately brings with it its own set of problems. We showed up early to catch Canadians Doldrums do their thing.
You can read on for my thoughts, and pics of Doldrums from our boy Brian Gray.
The last time that I caught Doldrums, I could tell that Eric Woodhead was still figuring things out for the live setting. It was hard to connect, and at times, the sound wasn’t as strong as one would have hoped. But, this time out, he’s got two additional members, adding extra elements to thicken the sonic exploration. It works to the group’s benefit, making the act increasingly more accessible with added pieces of percussion and layered vocals. The one draw back of the evening came after Woodhead lost a battle with a temperamental stand that held his effects board. It forced him to crouch on the floor, which made the set somewhat impersonal, but that was beyond his control, as we know those stands can get testy. Nice work opening things up.
Ugh. Where do I begin with the Crystal Castles afterthoughts? First, the band didn’t take the stage for 57 minutes following the opener (yes, I timed it). I don’t want to complain, but for a two band show with a huge backline, I find this both ridiculous and unacceptable. Alas, sometimes things can’t be helped. But, what threw me off entirely was the ridiculous sea of phones that greeted the band from the moment they took the stage. You’ll notice that we don’t have photos of the band today, as per their request, but apparently that didn’t get passed on to the masses. I’ve never been more embarrassed of watching a live show in Austin. I hate phones at shows, but I can accept the few morons that decide to snap photos while the band is playing. I cannot that 3 out of 5 of the people with their phones up last night were filming the entire show; sorry folks, you’re ridiculous. When did the audience prefer to watch through their phone or on their computer as opposed to enjoying the atmosphere of the live setting. I hope all those people realize that we’ve lived through hundreds of years of memorable live musical acts without filming or taking shoddy iPhone photos. As the fad increases, live shows are less enjoyable. Perhaps it’s just a measure of the band’s audience…I definitely didn’t see that at Beach Fossils or the Efterklang show I saw earlier this rock season.
Alas, Crystal Castles do deserve some praise. Their lighting was mesmerizing, though diminished by the fact that I had to watch a great deal of it reflected through assholes and their phones. Alice was entertaining as always; she’s a few festivals short of walking out in a plastic ball that glows in the dark. I actually think the added drummer really intensifies the sound, even if it’s presence is diminished. They played tracks from all three records, and the masses rejoiced with hit after hit, dancing like that ecstatic rave scene in the Matrix II. Had I not been a disgruntled old man, it would have been a perfect show…but these are the days of our lives.
More pics at the photo site…