all words: Shona Fenner
all photos: Aditya Banerjee
Wednesday night at the 9:30 club gave us two transformative sets that made me forget most everything outside the sold-out venue. The crowd of energetic twenty-somethings all were there to truly experience a BIG show and unabashedly dance around in a thick fog of perspiration.
Friends and strangers all got really really close and dripped sweat on each other. Did I mention it got very sweaty?
Our opener has not released very much music yet, but they had a solid set of fans with glow-sticks on their wrists bouncing around in front. This group of ecstatic and expectant people is definitely appropriate since their name nearly requires them to have some squealing, starry-eyed superfans. Teengirl Fantasy plays with a sweeping electronic sound that combines some samples and fuzz with a perky and persistent beat. I would consider this good music to put on when driving to the beach in the early morning with the windows down and a bag of munchie-induced fast food breakfast sandwiches in your lap. Give a quick listen/watch to the video for “Cheaters” and I think you will know what I mean.
The duo provided up with some hazy synth tunes that actually succeeded in sounding different from each other. Many similar electo/dancey pop bands get stuck on the same mechanics that make their music pretty repetitive. Teengirl Fantasy is not one of these groups, and they give us just enough 80s DJ feel to make the music evocative without slipping into an acid-washed and polyester stereotype. They may not have the most original sound, but I don’t really care about that. But that enough of saying what they aren’t… Teengirl Fantasy are a couple of kids from Oberlin College who have one of the BEST band websites in the history of ever.
Crystal Castles are a band I have been hankerin’ to see for awhile now. Basically a combination of strobe lights, Alice Glass’ shrieks, dancing pressed up against strangers, and really damn good songs made the show everything I could have hoped for. Crystal Castles are duo from Toronto that has a kind of raw and primal energy that totally tornados live. Alice is the singer, attention-grabber of the pair, and general bad-ass chick. I also might be in love with this whiskey-slinging lady now, just a heads up. Ethan Kath is the other half of Crystal Castles and he seems almost the opposite of Alice, since he was silent and kept his hood pulled up through the whole set. From where I stood I could hardly see the drummer, but each time I caught a glimpse he was grinning. He played the pounding beats that kept it all going, and together this ragamuffin group made a good combination.
Before the band came on stage, the audience was informed that Alice had a broken ankle. Not only that but the boring old doctors had told her to stop the tour to let it heal… but she was having none of that. The show must go on!
If the injury was affecting her, I could not tell by the way she performed. This girl is known for stage-diving, throwing almost anything around on stage, and being brave enough to get swarmed by fans while doing songs from in the heart of the pit. Her antics are legendary and while she may have calmed it down a little, Alice packs way more punch than most on their good days. I didn’t notice any hesitation when she jumped onto the waiting arms of the crowd and surfed around a little. She teetered on the edge of the stage for most of the show and gave a hell of a performance that had me riveted every minute.
They played for well over an hour by the end of the encore. As a result most of the audience had shed at least 4 pounds of water weight and completely lost any cares about personal space. About 5 or 6 songs into Crystal Castle’s performance my friend and I actually had to move out of the heart of the crowd just to breathe. We got a few gulps of air, new drinks, and quickly realized we were missing something crucial and squeezed back in.
The combination of the distorted vocals and strong beat with blinding, rapidly flashing light towers made for a total sensory and flowing experience. They did not need a light show to keep us interested, but I loved having my corneas assaulted along with everything else. Even slower songs, such as a personal favorite “Celestica” garnered the same feeling of collective excitement and intensity.
We hardly got a break for any softer songs because they would be followed by something that just got us all pushing forward and whipping our hair back and forth until whiplash occurred. My personal favorite song of the night was “Baptism”. During this song I could feel the pressure of the entire crowd behind me, all learning forward and jumping with their hands in the air. I’d wager we looked like a really peculiar riotous mob after a rainstorm.
Suffice it to say I was captivated, heard all the required favorites, and had an AWESOME time. This show was one of the best and filled me up on my dirty electronic music quotient for a few days. The audience and musicians all fed off a collective energy and the swarm of people outside later, all sticky with drying sweat, still had that thrilled mad look in their eyes. We may have been uncomfortable, but who goes to shows to relax?
Get a feel for what you could have felt Thursday night with this live video of “Crimewave”, then be converted to even more of an Alice Glass fan with the music video for “Courtship Dating”. Just go watch all the videos you can find and waste/enjoy the rest of your day.