Crystal Castles, Friendly Fries, and Team WaterpoloEdit this event
It must be great to be 14 in the year 2008. No longer do you have to steal someone's ID or make excuses that you're going round your friend's house to copy his chemistry homework; the 14+ event is now one of the biggest money-spinners on the live music circuit and most definitely here to stay. On the downside, this also means that stage times are brought forward to ridiculous hours where the rest of us are either curled up on the sofa watching Hollyoaks or stuck in rush hour traffic on the A60.
What this means is that DiS are too late to see tonight’s openers White Lies. We are informed when inside the venue that they were “nothing more than a poor man’s Killers”. DiS isn't quite convinced by this negative appraisal and would like to see them for ourselves at a later date. We remember Fear Of Flying, see.
We do manage to arrive in time to catch Team Waterpolo. They sound pleasant enough and the kids - literally - seem to find them most appealing. However, none of their songs are memorable enough at this stage to get too excited about, although given time their Kooks-meets-Klaxons sweeter-than-sweet synth-pop may cause more than the odd flutter.
For Friendly Fires, tonight could be called something of a homecoming, having pretty much been the house band-cum-DJs at the city's Liars Club and Rescued! nights during their formative months. Bearing that in mind, it is something of a pleasure to witness just how much progress Friendly Fires have made in the space of a year. Playing as a four-piece tonight, essentially with two drummers, their rock-orientated dance-blessed hybrid manages to surpass any of the ‘second coming of new rave’ tags clumsily thrust their way. 'Your Love' sounds magnanimous, while 'On Board' is a bass-heavy monolith of gigantic proportions. In fact, the only complaint about their set is the fact the bass and percussion are so loud it’s nigh on impossible to hear a lot else. A soundcheck away from greatness they may be.
Which is something you couldn't ever imagine saying about Crystal Castles (pictured). On record, their girl-screeches-over-‘80s-PC-noise is something that, while sounding fairly original, can also border on the unlistenable and, at worst, utterly ridiculous. In the flesh though, there really is something quite compelling about their stage show. Forget the fact that Ethan Kath stays hidden away behind his machine, beneath a hooded top that masks him from the whole room. Forget the fact that given the minimal amount of equipment they use, most of the songs - if you can actually call them that - do sound quite samey.
No, it's all about the skinny girl bouncing around the stage like Zebedee's stepchild, stopping every now and then for breath or to unleash a volley of phlegm to the side of the stage, and occasionally launching herself into the overzealous arms of the front two rows; indeed at one point during 'Xxzxcuzx Me' she actually kicks out at two security men sent in to retrieve her back to the safety of the stage.
Alice Glass behaves like she's just arrived from another planet entirely. God knows what she's screaming about during 'Alice Practice' but from the song's first echoes, most of the room sing back their own unique interpretations. It's a bewildering and yet unifying moment that highlights the sheer intensity of Crystal Castles' live set, and while it may not send all and sundry rushing to their local HMV to purchase the album, you can bet your bottom dollar they'll be telling their absent friends tomorrow morning that they missed one heck of a show. I know I almost did.
Photo: I’m The Superficial (Flickr)
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