Friday March 4, 2011
@ The Warfield
Better than: Asphyxiation and/or skin-hooks.
It's beyond fitting that the hoodie-cloaked singer should turn her injury into entertainment. After all, that's what the Toronto duo of Glass and producer Ethan Kath is about. Videos shot in graveyards. Lyrics alluding to rape and S&M. Hooks made of glitches, bass and screams. Track titles like "Suffocation," and "Pap Smear." Glass and Kath make torture porn for the hipster set, packaging sex and death better than Norwegians or the almighty Gaga.
But few of tonight's crowd-members look like their names sport an umlaut. The median age is roughly 22. They crash into each other and make out and scream: "I can't believe I'm drinking!" Pitchfork-approved accessories abound, from fishnets to fedoras, and there's at least one dinosaur costume.
But working through material from their two full-lengths, Crystal Castles and its confusingly-titled follow up, Crystal Castles, the headlining duo take raw noise to its logical and nihilistic conclusion. "Baptism"'s high-pitched bleeps ring out in confusing contrast to the vocalist's distorted howls. "Celestica" is rougher and less melodic live, with Glass' voice stretched past its limit. Though anchored on a steady beat, "Empathy" sounds and feels like little more than skeleton-rattling sound waves. In the pit, the audience blows bubbles into the strobe-lit smoke and jumps around to pop them.
During the duo's encore, I leave the pit and head to the back of the theatre. A man in front of me is recording the show on his phone. Its screen flashes with the strobe, recording nothing but the blinding light.
Best post-concert revelation: I've only ever barely understood Glass' lyrics, and this show was no different. Lyrics Mania, however, informs me that the duo has a song in which the singer does nothing but repeat: "Death Ray" ad infinitum.
Strangest collision: Tripping on a girl dressed as a bear.
Most entertaining sideshow: The guy doing the macarena, by himself, in the back.