Last Night: The Crystal Method at Revolution

Categories: Concert Preview
Ian Witlen
The Crystal Method performing at Revolution in Fort Lauderdale. Click here to view the full slideshow.
The Crystal Method
May 14, 2009
Revolution Live, Fort Lauderdale

Better than
: Revenge of the Nerds

When I spoke with The Crystal Method's Ken Jordan last week, he assured me that when he and his cohort Scott Kirkland hit town "they'd be pulling out all the stops."

Unfortunately, the stage at Revolution reportedly wasn't large enough to contain all the trickery the lads had up their well-developed sleeves. And last night's set was apparently bereft of some of the new tour's best elements. Oh, we got a show all right; we just didn't get the whole show TCM wanted to give us.

So, there was no massive swirl of fog; and no plastic exploding inevitable. There was though a stage full of orbs, of various dimensions and predilections, which pulsed above, below and behind the duo, each swinging and swirling and blinking and flashing with a frenzied insistence.

And, naturally, there was an aural assault of purely electronic proportion. And TCM's trademark blips and beats and riffs and weirdness all combined to create a glorious racket of measured cacophony and barely bridled cool.

The thing is, these cats are more lab tech than rock star, which may give hope to everyone who's ever had sand kicked in their face, but in the end really doesn't provide the kinda heat necessary to floor a crowd.

Well, at least not the kinda heat necessary to floor me. I mean sure, Revolution's dancefloor was packed to capacity and nary a soul stood still, even for a second. But I kinda got the feeling that would've happened just as well had the groove music been piped in from outer space -- or played by a DJ. Not that TCM didn't trick out each track with a little extra flavor, and not that the tricks didn't give the tracks that added oomph required by a live show. But, sorry to say, neither Jordan or Kirkland have what you'd really call stage presence, so to see them staging was, well, kinda no big thing.

Both though did give it their all: Kirkland letting out howls and shouts as he bandied about between racks of miraculous gadgetry. And Jordan, in his "Make Green Not War" T-shirt, who lapsed into an almost guitar hero pose while basically keeping himself tethered to a laptop and a keyboard.

And the tracks, even without a voice, are brilliantly executed slices of post contemporary commentary, touching upon, with wild beatitude, such subjects as self-determination ("Wild, Sweet and Cool"), predestination ("Bound Too Long"), dim-wittedness ("Born Too Slow") and utopia ("Trip Like I Do"), not to mention, of course, the ubiquity of technology (everything).

But without the human element of, say, an Emily Gaines or a Justin Warfield or a Matisyahu (to name but three of the guest vocalists in TCM's just out Divided By Night), the set lacked the heart heard when a soul is bared before you. In other words: zeroes and ones rather than X's and O's, which is hardly the way to sway this sweaty devil.

Like I say though, that's just me. And last night's crowded house would undoubtedly wholeheartedly disagree. Perhaps next time I'll stop looking and just listen, and let myself also fall asunder. Then I too can become one with The Crystal Method.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: As I mentioned, TCM's Divided By Night has a guest spot from Metric vocalist Emily Gaines, who could whisper the user's manual to a Commodore 64 and still leave me smitten.

Random Detail: A bearded cat in a top hat half-bopping near the front of the stage looked suspiciously like Joaquin Phoenix, and when our photographer Ian Witlen started snapping the cat he stormed outta the club.

By the Way: Divided By Night can be downloaded at Amazon for the deliciously low price of $2.99. Really.

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