Published Aug 15, 2010By the third song in Crystal Castles' Kool Haus set, three different punters had already vomited in a single garbage can. Perhaps the area had a high per capita sickness rate or maybe weak gag reflexes caused a domino effect. Nevertheless, the ill concertgoers illustrated an important aspect of a Crystal Castles gig: it's a visceral experience.
From the outset of the Toronto group's show, the sound struggled. Ethan Kath's opaque soundscapes carried the first couple of tracks, but the muddy mix largely buried drums and vocals. The aural troubles didn't really matter as frontwoman Alice Glass's balls-out writhing largely compensated, contagiously spurring the dance party.
By early highlight and recent single "Celestica," Glass's vocals had come to the fore, making the robust song prettily ethereal — a feat considering the milieu — and freeing her from Bez-style lead-by-example duties. From there, sound problems mostly dissipated just in time for the singer's noise-punk wail to return.
"Celestica" aside, Glass was at her best gutturally yelling, her yelps coalescing with her frenetic thrashing as she sojourned atop the crowd, bounced against the drum set and wriggled on the floor. Equally rousing, Kath's scattershot melodies and noise crescendos strutted about haphazardly, his disparate sounds mirroring Glass's unpredictable movements. At turns, drummer Christopher Chartrand's reliable beats either anchored or intensified the chaos.
Standout cuts like "Crimewave" and "Baptism" hugely benefited from the live bedlam, jacking up the low-end for club-ready results, retaining their incisive, left-field melodies and throwing in seizure-ready light shows just for fun. With all of that empirical stimulation going on, the garbage cans never really stood a chance.