I never went to a rave in the 90's. For the majority of the 90's, I was more concerned with eating playdough than clubbing if I'm being completely honest. However, last nights gig by Canadian electro-punk duo, Crystal Castles, a band famed for their raucous live sets and glitchy, aggressive take on electronic music, took me there. At least in terms of what I imagined it to be.I left Auckland's Powerstation last night slightly dazed; an after-effect of being constantly bombarded by the flickering strobe lights that accompanied Crystal Castles performance. There were so many flashing lights - I cannot stress that enough. It was an intense visual barrage, befitting a band that matched it with equally outrageous and sense-shocking showmanship.
I hadn't seen Crystal Castles perform since they burst onto the club scene in 2008. Since then they released a number of well received records, changed their vocalist, and took a lengthy hiatus. I wondered whether new vocalist Edith Frances would be able to match the energy and charisma of the absent Alice Glass and whether the duo would be able to deliver on their reputation as being one of the most compelling and energetic live acts in music. I was wrong to ever doubt them.
The whole gig is a trance. The set is raucous and exhilarating. The music and lighting intoxicate, encouraging and intensifying the frenzied crowd. Edith glimmers and disappears repeatedly within the strobe lights, uncontrollably inundating herself with water as she moved around the stage with animalistic energy, her coloured hair dripping with sweat and water as she jumps around the stage encouraging the audience to move.
Edith's vocal range is exquisite, surprisingly outmatching that of previous lead singer Alice Glass. Her handling of the frenetic ‘Baptism’, a classic electro-pop classic from their second album is probably the best reflection of this. She hit the nerve-crunching decibels present in the thunderous chorus of 'Baptism' with ease, while also respecting the inflated glitches and often hardly coherent wails in the song - one of the vocal features that the band is most known for since releasing their debut album. Edith also did well to match the onstage energy of Glass, dousing herself and the crowd in a bottled water baptism throughout the song (I stopped counting at around four bottles - there were probably more). Watching people dance to songs, old and new, served as a reminder to me that the music of Crystal Castles is bigger than the line-up, and that the lure of Alice Glass wasn’t essential for the band.
Accompanying the jarring and hyper-presence of Edith Frances is Ethan Kath, a genius musician and calm mannered performer, who infuses Crystal Castles with their signature off-kilter beats. Kath silently blurs on stage, occasionally joined by Frances, remaining fixed to his decks throughout the concert; transfixed to his own creations of disjointed ligaments, ambiguous loops, and destructive inflections that have defined the band's sound for the last nine years. Kath must be praised for rising a band back from the ashes that many thought was dead in the water.
Other highlights from the night include the pulverising and ghastly fizz of 'Fleece', a song whose arrival was greeted by an energetic whirl of concertgoers colliding against each other in the tightly-packed Powerstation dancefloor, while the heavy bass of 'Enth’ crashed through the venue, thumping through the crowd. The sombre 'Char' - a standout from their latest outing, the politically-charged Amnesty (I), provided a nice counter-point to these tracks, as does the dark and gloomy 'Keronse'; and 'Kept', a song which saw everyone dancing rhythmically rather than jumping - that is until everything descended into anarchy again.
The band’s chart hit cover 'Not in Love', the song that saw their fame soar was predictably saved for the encore. The crowd dutifully danced and sung along to the track before heading off into the crisp cool night.
Joining the others out on the street I reflected on the last time that I saw Crystal Castles. They were as unpredictable and chaotic as they had ever been, all without abandoning the melodies that earned them their position as frontrunners of electronic noise. However, the band appears to be more creative and relevant as ever - in a climate of huge political unrest, angry protest bands such as Crystal Castles are becoming evermore popular, though what makes the duo different is that they have not abandoned melody in the process.
They immediately sold out Sydney and Melbourne dates earlier this year, and now LCD Soundsystem are returning to Australia and New Zealand for their biggest headline shows ever this summer – touring February 2018!
Following the release of her critically-acclaimed debut album, Take Me Apart, Kelela returns with a new video. "Blue Light," one of the standouts from her breakthrough album, receives a sensual and alien-like visual accompaniment courtesy of director Helmi.
Following from the first shows of Flying Lotus’ 3D tour, including a sold out show at Hollywood Forever Cemetery with Thundercat and Hannibal Buress (as part of RBMA Los Angeles) and Berkeley dates with Solange and Earl Sweatshirt, Flying Lotus presents the new video and song “Post Requisite”.
Mount Kimbie have celebrated the start of their world wide tour with the release of a new visual for ‘You Look Certain (I'm Not So Sure) (feat. Andrea Balency)’, their latest collaboration with Frank Lebon.
In the mid to late 90's, when grunge began to wither away and MTV strived to find the next easy to access label to attach to new batch of up and coming rock bands, global attention started to shine on the Alt Rock scene.
The I Love The 90s Tour returns to Auckland next year March 23rd at Auckland’s Spark Arena, with a completely off the chain lineup featuring classic Hip Hop crew Naughty by Nature. Vin Rock from the Grammy Award winning rap group speaks fondly of this country and love of our people.
The Soundsplash Festival is returning to Raglan in January 2018. Local reggae favourites Katchafire are returning to feature on the bill. We sent a few questions over to lead vocalist Logan Bell ahead of the festival.
Following 2015’s Kitty, Daisy & Lewis'The Third', the sibling trio are back stronger than ever, harnessing their ability to create pop-infused soul, blues, rock n roll and a large mix of genres to perfection, in the shape of their fourth studio album, Superscope.
Kylie Price has just released her new album Bones. Last week she appeared on theNZ Entertainment Podcast, where she sang a new song I Dont Want To Go off the album while talking shop about her dream gig to play with Ed Sheeran and her Philipino roots.
Last week I caught up withPeter Hook ahead of returning down under for Australasian leg of the Joy Division and New Order Substance tour. We had a great chat about the spirit of punk, what it takes to write a book and why shows like the X-factor are so unhealthy…
Long established as one of New Zealand’s finest acts, South Pacific reggae-soul legends, The Black Seeds are set to tour the country in September, following the release of their long awaited 6th studio album Fabric, (out today - Friday September 8th).
Jacqueline Nalpant is a Booking Agent for the Paradigm Talent Agency, and is heading to New Zealand early next month where she'll be one of the speakers for the Going Global Music Summit (Friday 1st & Saturday 2nd September at Roundhead Studios, Auckland).
Since making her musical debut with her song Drift early last year, fast attracting a solid fan base and over 1 million plays across Spotify and Soundcloud in just a few months, Madeline North, better known by her musical moniker So Below, has once again blessed us with a moodier, masterful electro-pop banger, titled Ruin.
Since forming in 1998, the Antwerp, Belgium based trio Triggerfinger have long become a mainstay on the rock scene, building a solid reputation across Europe, the US, Canada and beyond, as one of the hardest-driving and sharpest dressing bands around.
Popular metalcore group Northlane are on their way to New Zealand. The Sydney band are touring North America taking in countries like Chile and Mexico as they head our way down-under next month to play Wellington’s San Fran then Auckland at the iconic Kings Arms.
Returning to New Zealand for the first time in three years, Australian metalcore band In Hearts Wake are on their way to our shores next month for a quick run of shows supporting their label cohorts Northlane.
Courtney Marie Andrews has landed in New Zealand, and set to play two concerts this week with Joe Pug - tonight at San Fran in Wellington (Wed July 19) and tomorrow night at The Tuning Fork in Auckland (Thu July 20).
Auckland two-piece Skinny Hobos, Alex Elvis and Texas Holdom, are heading on a 5 date New Zealand tour with headliners Decades, Bakers Eddy and Dead Favours. Kicking off tonight in Hamilton (July 14), the tour will also take them to Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and finishes up in Dunedin.
Have you ever considered sharing your most personal experiences with the entire world? Well come this Friday 14th July, that’s what Emma Cameron, the rocking front-woman of kiwi band Decades is about to do, when they release their long-awaited full length debut album, The Truth And Other People, so we sat down with the cheerful front woman to discover just what truth this album reveals..
Whilst Sonny Landreth is a well known slide-guitar master, zydeco enthusiast and phenomenal blues legend, what you may not know about him, is that he is one of the nicest gentlemen in the entire universe.
He was always the boy next door type energy, that type of person you just always wanted to be around. From day one, Shay Taylor has always been one to break the mold and live life in such a vibrant and contagious manner, that no matter who he spoke to, they walked away feeling great!