At 33 years old I never have delusions that I will be the ‘young’ one at the show. Moving to Denver and being exposed to it’s 16+ music venues, I got used to hanging with the ‘kids’ pretty quick. Most of the time, I have no problem with it. I grew up in San Diego and if it weren’t for the all-age clubs there, I would have never been able to catch my favorite bands when they came through town. I think a thriving all-age music scene is the sign of a healthy city.
That being said, there are times I do miss my 21+ venues in San Francisco. Last night was one of those times.
To be honest though, this was a show for the ‘kids’…I was the one who didn’t belong. I didn’t belong for a variety of reasons.
Reasons I shouldn’t have been there:
#1: My rave days are over. I did the warehouse and desert and designer drug parties in the early to mid-90s. San Diego, Los Angeles, Hollywood, Long Beach, Thousand Palms…meeting the guys with glow sticks on the side of the road for the next clue. Moby, Rabbit in the Moon, Crystal Method were just rave DJs back then. I did it. I don’t do it anymore. I don’t miss it.
#2: I hate techno music. The only reason I came to this HARD Tour was to see Crystal Castles. They intrigue me. They entertain me. They are not just a guy with a turntable and laptop.
#3: I am just too damn old. The average age last night had to have been 18. These half naked, drugged out, glowstick totting club-kids looked like they were having a great time, but I did not belong among them.
So in all reality, you should stop reading this review now, because I lack the interest or credentials to talk about the DJs who performed last night. But for what it’s worth, here’s what I saw, heard and experienced last night.
Sinden had the sold-out crowd dancing through his whole 2 hour or so set. The main room was as packed as the crowded smoking section out front. It was so packed that it became uncomfortable. This show, which was more like a mini-rave, should have been at a different venue. A venue with a real dance floor or even a warehouse.
I couldn’t take Sinden and I couldn’t take the crowd outside, so I was stuck.
We had arrived at 9:00 with the thought that we would catch about 45 minutes of Rusko’s set before Crystal Castles came on at 10:30. But the set times had changed and Rusko was now headlining and Crystal Castles were not coming on until 11:00pm. We were surrounded by high school kids who were smoking cigarettes, popping pills, pounding water and, of course, sucking on suckers. It was entertaining for a quick minute, then I got nostalgic and then I just wanted to get out of there.
We managed to kill some time until Crystal Castles took the stage. We had a great spot on the mid-level; out of the crowd but with a direct center view of the stage. The dark stage with the ‘girl from the cemetery”s face on the backdrop became a blinding and deafening display of strobe lights, distorted video game beats and Alice Glass’s signature screaming. This was the sensory abuse we came for!
For 45 mins Crystal Castles performed an abrasive set that unleashed energy like a bomb. There is really no way to explain a Crystal Castles show in words…it’s something that needs to be felt. The first time I saw them I felt like I had been audibly and visually raped.
The difference between last night’s set and the first time I saw them a few years ago was that they have more songs and a larger budget and a drummer. Instead of relying on strobe lights all night, they had a full array of optical enhancements for your viewing pleasure. Other than that, the show was the same. Ethan on the machines and Alice up front and impersonal . She moves like a seizure across the stage, she jumps into the crowd and she strains her vocal chords as she rattles your eardrums…but she doesn’t talk to you, she doesn’t want to know you and you are not going to know her. She’s just a silhouette on the stage; she’s a shadow.
Those 45 minutes were worth the waiting for. A good mixture of material from both Crystal Castles albums proved that even though they arn’t very creative with album titles, they more than make up for that in other areas.
Rusko took the stage after the Canadians exited for the last night and his DJ set just did nothing for me. It’s probably a good thing he was performing until 1:30 to let the club-kids chill out and come down a little before going home…but we didn’t have that problem and were in a cab by 12:30am.