Crystal Castles invaded Oakland’s Fox Theater a few weeks back with their arsenal of seizure inducing strobe lights, high-energy electro-punk beats, and moody experimental electronic. All this paired with pragmatic front-woman Alice Glass’ non-stop onslaught of crowd surfing and on-stage trance induced screaming made for one hell of a show. Having seen the group several times before at larger festivals and events, I found their show in this venue to be one of my favorite so far because of the intimate nature of their show in a closed space. From beginning to end, blinding white lights and smoke confused the audience while lead singer Alice ran around stage, crowd surfing from time to time while still screaming into the mic with both room-shaking intensity and also soulful beauty. The connection the audience feels with the group is unmatched as Alice is passed across the entire room over the audiences head, microphone still in hand, pausing frequently to focus in on one person and lock eye contact in what can only resemble the Mortal Kombat soul stealing move. This amazing vocal display, however, is only possible with beats coming from a purposefully under shadowed performance by Ethan Kath, the band’s beat master. The man generally sits under no lights and shreds a keyboard and a couple controllers with a hood up then leaves the stage before the show even ends so as to receive no recognition at all.
The group threw down some of their crowd favorites as well as a few oddly enjoyable 10-minute tangents of experimental electronic craziness. Appearing for the first time with a live drummer, at least that I have seen, the group played a terrific set including “Empathy,” “Baptism,” “Untrust Us,” and an insanely high energy drop of “Black Panther” that turned into a segment of the concert I dubbed Alice vs. the audience.
Crystal Castles is an amazingly involved and unique concert experience, and if you like the group, but have never seen them live, I highly recommend being front row at a show and passing Alice over your head before you make any further judgement.