Last Night: Crystal Castles at Grand Central, September 11

crystalcastlesgclive.jpg
Photo by Ian Witlen
Alice Glass of Crystal Castles performing live at Grand Central, Miami.
Click here to view photos from Crystal Castles at Grand Central.

Crystal Castles
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Grand Central, Miami


Better Than: Your old-school Gameboy.

Let's discuss the elephant in the room: Why didn't local artist Panic Bomber open for the Toronto act Crystal Castles as planned? I know why, but I'm finding myself conflicted as a journalist about telling you the reason and as a person trying to be respectful of all parties involved who probably don't want to fuel the flames. So, sorry, you aren't going to hear it from me. But I'm very disappointed he wasn't given the opportunity to showcase his latest work, which he had expressed so much excitement about debuting at Saturday's show. We hope there will be a date soon where we all can check it out.

Otherwise, the show went on as planned. This was perhaps the venue's biggest show to date. But with the help of extra security, two opened entrances, and barricades around the stage, the show went as smoothly as possible, considering Alice Glass's fondness for crowd surfing and near rioting.

This was my fifth time seeing the duo perform live in Miami. (Yeah, you probably thought it was their first time performing here. It wasn't.) Before they were internet famous, they performed at Pawn Shop Lounge, Churchill's Pub, and Mansion. However, it wasn't until Ultra Music Festival 2009 that Crystal Castles had started to gain a substantial following.

Last night, it was obvious that while they don't move album units like Lady Gaga or Enimen, Crystal Castles are definitely not the "underground" band I've loved since 2006. Kendall bros, chongas, frat bros, fashionistas, nerds, hipsters, and hippies -- from all three counties -- packed Grand Central for its first-ever sold-out show.

A little before 1 a.m., Glass and Ethan Kath, along with live drummer Christopher Chartrand, took the stage. Kath started out with a noisy intro that lead into the Crystal Castles II's underwhelming opener, "Fainting Spells." Not my favorite track by far, but it worked better live. Same can't be said for tracks like "Baptism" and "Crimewave," which pack a punch as studio tracks but fell a bit limp live. I'm not sure if it was sound issues, but everything sounded muffled. And I know it was a Crystal Castles show. But you've got to trust me here, I've heard these tracks live before and they've sounded better. Luckily, around "Alice Practice," the sound improved.

Visually, the show was drastically different from their past appearances. While their Ultra performance was dark and ominous thanks to clever backlighting and smoke, last night was all about flashing LED lights, which I'd like to think was exclusive to Miami considering not too many venues come equipped with a superb LED screen like Grand Central.

With a mixture of songs from both albums, the notions that Crystal Castles has gotten quieter and more ambient weren't evident on Saturday. Glass yelled her way through the entire set, with tracks like "Empathy" and "Celestica" getting huge crowd response. But the showstopper was definitely "Intimate," which is a bit of a sleeper track. Closing out the show was the unreleased fan favorite, "Yes/No."

Painfully missed, though, were tracks like "Loving and Caring," "Xxzxcuzx Me," "Pap Smear," and "Vietnam." Still, if you missed the duo this time around, chances are next time you'll be forced to see them at a much larger venue like the Fillmore.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: Whether it be Atari Teenage Riot, Patric Catani, or Kap Bambino, noisy electro is sort of my thing.

Random Detail: What was up with all the fights? Makes me think Grand Central should never have an 18-plus show again. If you are going to behave like children, you don't deserve to be there.

Overheard in the Crowd: "Oh my God! I've seen them so many times in places like Brooklyn and San Francisco. I follow them wherever they go."

Setlist

-"Fainting Spells"
-"Baptism"
-"Courtship Dating"
-"Crimewave"
-"Insectica"
-"Doe Deer"
-"Alice Practice"
-"Air War"
-"Black Panther"
-"Celestica"
-"Empathy"
-"Reckless" (with lyrics from "Through the Hosiery")
-"Untrust Us"
-"Intimate"
-"Yes/No"

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