The night before, in Seattle, the photographer restrictions were tough. A photog friend there pleaded with me to complain to the band. So when Crystal Castles’ tour manager told us we couldn’t shoot from the pit, I was bummed. “A photographer got hurt when Alice crowdsurfed once,” he said…
…and instead invited us to take pics of t the band from on stage. WHAT? AWESOME!
“But my tip,” he continued, “would be to snap them in the off-beats…and if I tap you? Get the hell out of the way. She has a habit of throwing mics.”
He wasn’t kidding about the off-beats either. This was an impossible set to shoot, which was heartbreaking considering my rad vantage point. Ethan and Alice would be bathed in either black, deep red or bleached out in intense strobes for the duration. Might have looked amazing from the floor, but from the stage I ended up snapping almost literally blindly. There was a fleece blanket of dry ice up there covering everything in impossible. Afterwards, the photogs all got together in the Green Room to have a laugh at how few we managed to snag. But first-world problems right? I was on stage with Crystal Castles. AND I didn’t get knocked out with a mic.
But let’s take a step back for a sec. The whole THING about Crystal Castles is a bit absurd. Assholey cancellations of shows, chiptunes and fuzz, $60 tickets and so forth. CC are holier-than-thou hipsters from Toronto who make noisy alt-electronica. When I ran into Ethan pre-show and wished him well, he smiled weakly and awkwardly as expected. I would normally stand there with my arms folded, but this time was curious. What’s the draw?
The draw? They’re actually compelling live. An intensely loud set at Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom revealed that at its heart, a Crystal Castles show can be a visceral thing. Songs like “Plague”, “Suffocation”, “Alice Practice”, “Vanished” all sounded enormous. Ear-splitting muddy stuff, made epic by singer Alice’s non-stop action. In the crowd, on the crowd, rolling through it, standing on the drums, kneeling on the floor, shouting and waving arms about, she was brilliant to watch. When “Untrust Us” finally poked through, it was a wild party. And “Not in Love” (the one sung by Cure’s Robert Smith covering Toronto 80s band Platinum Blonde – who I used to follow around town when I was 12) was loudly full of win.
So while the pictures may be flawed and bathed in haze, they’re kind of spot on in a way. Because so’s the band. But tonight, they were worth every bad shot.\m/
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