Sunday, September 1, 2013

Bumbershoot, Day One - Crystal Castles

The long day of music closed out with a completely insane set by Crystal Castles.  Washed Out's set didn't end until 10:00, when Crystal Castles were scheduled to begin, and I expected to miss at least part of their performance, but I was able to make it to the Fisher Pavilion before the band began.  However, like during the final set of the day at Bumbershoots past, the audience was massive, and I couldn't get close enough to the stage to even see the performers, just their video-screen projections until well near the end of the set.  But with all of the dry-ice fog on the stage and Alice Glass' tendency to dive into the audience every few minutes or so, I don't know if I would have seen things much more clearly even if I were in the front row.  Glass is a legendarily reckless performer for her stage diving antics - the woman must have an incredible threshold for physical pain, or just gets so psyched by Crystal Castles' aggressive beats and shrieking synth lines that she doesn't notice the abuse her body must experience.  Several times, she was actually able to stand upright on the arms and shoulders of the audience, so that rather than crowd-surfing, she was actually crowd-walking, a pretty impressive sight especially while still shrieking her vocal parts.  She doesn't actually "sing" most of the time, at least not in a traditional sense of melody, but screams into the microphone with the line run through an echo-box, reverb, and synthesizers where it's treated and distorted to almost beyond recognition as a human voice, all while loud club beats fill the space below.  The vocals are so heavily processed, at times Glass just dragged the microphone across the stage floor and was able to produce similar sounds to her vocal effects.  While all of this may not sound appealing - and to some it may not to be sure - but it all adds up live to a thrilling and exciting performance if one allows oneself to be immersed into the experience.  But it almost by definition has to be the closing set as it was last night - I'm not sure what could possibly follow as aesthetically and physically a daredevil performance as that.

So that was it for Day One of Bumbershoot 2013 - over 11 hours of music and 10 bands.  One new discovery (ZZ Ward) and one newly-appreciated performer (Watsky). The stand-out performance of the day has to go to !!!, and the most over-the-top experience to Crystal Castles.

We're off to a great start.

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