Crystal Castles: A Show to Remember

Crystal Castles in concert. Photo by Cosi Ian Goodman.

Crystal Castles in concert. Photo by Cosi Ian Goodman.

Cannery Ballroom, Nashville, Tennessee, October 4: The night the rest of Covenant College was watching Josh Garrels in the chapel, me and three of my friends dressed in our grungiest black outfits and drove to Nashville to see Crystal Castles perform on their continuous tour. Go ahead, you can call us rebels. We were more than just excited—two of us had already attended one of their concerts and for the other two, this was our first show. I might be a bit bold in saying this was the best concert I have ever been to, but as soon as the concert was over, I wanted to do it all over again. But I do think that this is the best concert I have been to yet.

I was first introduced to Crystal Castles last spring semester in my Communications Design class. Junior art major Caleb Smith suggested them to me during class because one of our projects was to come up with an event, and promote it by means of the design programs we were learning. My imagined event was an intimate, dimly-lit, yuppy fashion show supporting local emerging artists, and all I needed to complete the imaginary mood was the right kind of music. Crystal Castles fit the bill perfectly. Thank you, Caleb. The band has long since become go-to background music for when I make art.

Fast forward to the night of the concert when Canadian-based Electropunk band members Edith Frances and Ethan Kath took their eager listeners by the hand and thrust us into a mosh of frenzied heartbeats. Being only two rows away from the stage was to be in the presence of an art form almost celestial. Symphonic instrumentals and choir-like voices filled the venue. I think I can speak for all present that we did not mind being hit with ghostly green lights and rolling smoke clouds when it meant we could fully experience the prelude, which sounded like a mortal understanding of heavenly praise.

As the new face of Crystal Castles (former lead vocalist Alice Glass left the band for solo work in 2014), Frances is the epitome of what all grunge punk bands should be. She is passionate, angsty, a slave to the sound. Her perfectly blendable voice pairs with the blasting electronic beats, making every song powerful. Before she started singing the first set, she stared eerily over the audience, broke open a water bottle with her teeth, and poured half over her green hair and the other half she slashed over us, her wide-eyed viewers.

After every couple of songs Frances walked over to Kath on the keyboards and pulled out a golden hand held mirror to reapply her blood red lipstick. She never rushed. She always took her time. She did whatever she wanted—whether it was slumping over the amplifiers, standing on them, or throwing down her mic stand. She walked up two inches from our faces, letting us touch her before pushing us away, and all the while the crowd roared.

Crystal Castles has been producing music for 11 years now, so they have an extensive library of songs to perform from. I was happy to hear personal favorites like “Crimewave,” “Baptism,” “Suffocation,” and “Celestica.” Every song performed live was better than the recordings.

While I can’t say that Crystal Castles is a Christian band, they do use many theological symbols in their songs. I know Josh Garrels fans in the Chapel and my eager friends and I in the Cannery Ballroom experienced different sensations on the same night, but they were all brought on by the power of music, and I thank God for that. Long live Crystal Castles.