Aug 12, 2010 - 11:55 PM
As people chilled out front before the doors opened, it was hard to tell what might be going on. One group was wearing sequenced tank tops, booty shorts, furry boots up to their mid-thigh, pacifiers in their mouths and bracelets up to their elbows, while another group stood off in the side in their tight pants, dark glasses and cigarettes constantly in hand. Others rocked their Bob Marley shirts, Birkenstocks and dreadlocks. These people stood in their respective circles, bouncing around with excitement with what they were about to experience (well, everyone except the assholes in tight pants).
A strange mix of people, but it took no time to prove the show was going to get heavy when there was already a shirtless guy crowd surfing during the opening act, last minute fill-in Sam Supa.
Even with British DJ Sinden’s last minute cancellation, his Oakland native replacement was welcomed by the crowd, most noticeably, of course, by the shirtless crowd surfer who stuck around for most of his set.
The lower levels of the theater began to fill up fast with a huge mix of people. While the tight pants hipster party crowd proved to be the dominant fans, once they got some liquor in their body they stopped being assholes and let loose like everyone else.
Further exploration into the crowd proved an even more oh-so-random-yet-oh-so-right mix of people for this event, such as a group of homosexuals there to celebrate one of their friends “coming out” to the world, a girl wearing a tiara broadcasting that she was now legally 18 and ready to party, and one US marine corporal who was on leave from his base in San Diego and bought a scalped ticket with his friend moments before the doors opened because they heard some hot chicks saying it was a good show.
On stage, Sam Supa stood out among his fellow performers with his pop music remixes, rather than industrial or dubstep beats. Some fans were bummed to find later in the show that Rusko, one of the UK's leading dubstep DJs who worked closely with M.I.A on Maya, did a lot of the same during his set.
With such a high energy in the crowd, it was crucial from the beginning to allow little down time between sets. The first three acts made smooth transitions between each other, with the performers beginning to set up their gear during the last of each other's sets.
Despite Sam Supa's efforts, it was clear that Russian dubstep DJ Proxy started the real show.
For those not up on dubstep, think hip-hop meets industrial beats with a little bit of something you’d hear on a gay bar jukebox thrown in, only without lyrics so you can experience the amazing beats some heady guy puts together on some computer. This isn’t shit made in a studio being played on the speakers while some singer dances and lip syncs. This is a one-man live band, accompanied by an epic light show, here for your listening and dancing pleasure.
"I'm from Russia and rarely get to see good Russian music played here," said Olga Kapanski, 19, who's lived in Oakland since she was 14. "My friends are really into Crystal Castles, but I'm here to show them Proxy."
As Proxy began to set up during the last of Supa’s set, the celebrating tiara-wearing teen screamed to her posse, “C’mon bitches! It’s time to dance!” as they ran down toward the growing mob in front of the stage.
Alice Glass and Ethan Kath of Crystal Castles no doubt stole the show with a mind blowing light show and Glass' signature stage dives…not to mention their 16-song setlist, which included a three song encore.
For those of you new to the Canadian phenomenon of Crystal Castles, don’t expect rainbows and unicorns. Crystal Castles is a dark, mysterious duo who do shit their own way. Producer Ethan Kath has been an electronic music producer for most his life but usually worked solo. In 2004, he went to a punk show and saw Alice Glass singing in her band, Fetus Fetale. As the story goes, he said to his friend, “She is the missing ingredient to my music.” Soon after, he’d convinced Alice to join him as the voice to his beats.
But Alice isn’t only a voice. She is an entity. And by that I mean she doesn’t give a fuck when she’s on stage, and probably in life. You will see this chick pounding down straight vodka on stage during Kath’s instrumental sets, throwing shit into the crowd and doing unpredictable stage dives. You don’t know if she’s going to float along the crowd singing/screaming her lyrics, or kick someone’s ass because she feels like it.
But none of this matters. As the mixed crowd proves, Crystal Castles’ electronic/industrial/pop/dance/punk music is something anybody can relate to and, most importantly, shake their ass to.
Kath’s amazing beat compositions and Alice’s whiney/screechy voice work like Jagermeister and those 180 energy drinks--individually you'd choose something a little tastier to drink, but you’ll pound 10 in a row when you mix the two together. Or in the case of this show, dance your ass off for 16 straight songs.
Despite how crazy and unpredictible she may be, her fans love her. One fan commented on www.last.fm that he was surprised at finally hearing "Insectica" live because it's rarely included in their setlist. Most of the other fans were stoked to have experienced "Untrust Us," with Alice crowd surfing across their hands, kicking and singing/screaming with fury the entire time. Songs performed from their newest album included "Celestia," "Doe Deer," and "Empathy".
Alice Glass has a haunting effect on people. She's the guilty pleasure you want to be but don't have the guts to do it. So, instead, you don't have a choice but to live it through Crystal Castles’ live show.
Eric Lawson and Erika Langdon are freelance contributors to Oh Dang!