Gig Review: Crystal Castles

206_crystalcastles_jf_3237_210316-1When I was younger I had an ornate fear of dark woods, of uninhabited forests where things lurk bewildered to my imagination. Fear tended to lurk behind, beyond and within the pines. Simply the fear of the unknown; that’s what being scared of the dark is. As I grow older this fear shrinks but, as I enter the Leadmill, as I drink a gin and tonic, as I wait for the slender shadows of him and her to appear, the duo who make up the notoriously sinister Crystal Castles fear creeps in to the distant unknowing, unwilling abscess of my mind. The grunge, gothic style and appearance of the duo forfeit nothing but unpleasantness to my soul and the obsessive, constant, unnerving strobe lighting as they begin this showbiz ritual scares me into a state of panic. In such a situation of frenzy and panic what is one to do? Any reasonable being would have done what I did; boogie. Let loose those demons and jive, thrive, feeling alive!

Nothing this band do feels normal, absurd is a word fitting for their actions and presence. An old NME interview once told me that they were homeless and toured the UK while also living rough. Looking a little more stylish than your average vagabond they, with their relentless strobe lighting, stick their teeth in to a smooth electronic sound; Concrete and Baptism are the first two songs that are played. The sound of European electric music is identifiable and then it’s coupled with angelic screams from lead singer Edith Frances; both topped off with dark undertones and received with pleasurable responses. The crowd have only been listening for ten minutes and they are already tuned into the mad, menacing, metallic TV channel which is being broadcast on the stage. Edith Frances flaps about the stage like a rhythmic skeleton been thrown out of a burning building while the Wu-Tang Clan played in the background; her movements are intense, jerking her arms, flinging her head, thrusting her hips. The drugs she must have been on to numb the pain are questionable. This ritual styled dance takes the crowd through songs such as, Suffocation, Char, Kerosene, Intimate and Enth. Each song containing a debilitating chorus which gave the overall show a sense of grandeur.

Since the departure of Alice Glass, former front woman, nothing seems to have changed. The sound is the same in the new album ‘Amnesty I’ of which this show is part of the tour. Everything seems to be the same, either that or the blistering light show had blinded me for the full hour and half. Soldiering on through the head banging and cryptic dance-shuffling-goth-twisting lunatics whom occupied the crowd I witnessed the duo perform; Crimewave, Fleece and Frail before untangling myself from the crowd and watching them seal the deal with Telepath/Kept/Untrust us and Celestica. A biblical show, a performance for the unworthy and right bloody fantastic.


Words by Will Rotherforth

Author: Ryan Newsam

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