I’m going to compare my third night at CMJ to a $5 flask of Jim Beam, not because I have Bukowski-like insight to living the ultimate male taboo fantasy (the uninhibited bachelor, slobby, anti-social, freedom, etc.), but because it’s what I was drinking last night.
The idea of a flask is good: drinks at clubs are a hassle to get and expensive, and I’m not above college-level booze-hounding to avoid running up a $30+ tab. However, near the end of the flask, you’d gladly pay double to get the taste of cheap whiskey out of your mouth.
And that’s akin to my night seeing Crystal Castles at NY’s Webster Hall.
I arrived promptly at 8:30 – still early, but not early enough to look like an amateur. Warm with confidence, I strolled right up the door guy, badge in hand.
“Sorry sir, we’re no longer accepting CMJ badges tonight.”
Guh. I just stared at him and shuffled off to the side. I was so steadfast in seeing Crystal Castles, so sure that I would get in, that I had failed to make a Plan B. A group of fellow badge-holders, similarly exiled, began to form a line in case the doorman decided to change his mind (which, face it: being a doorman gives you that arbitrary power). With no alternative plan, I joined them.
After 30 minutes of waiting and no sign of entering the club anytime soon, I had an epiphany: I remembered I had a connection with a girl who works the door at Webster (apparently, alcohol slows reaction time). Intent on persevering, and an intense need to go to the bathroom, I walked up and asked if so and so was working. Door guy had no idea who I was talking about, but let me in anyway.
Although I’ve only hung out with this person once, she was such a sweetheart when I showed up. I’m never good at cashing in on favors and end up feeling like a mooching jerk, but she nodded me through, discretely slipping me a V.I.P. pass to top it off. And it was in the V.I.P. section that I finished that flask of Jim Beam. Classsssyyyy.
English band Fujiya and Miyagi opened with an energetic set of forgettable songs. They did a fine job of warming up the crowd, but they offered nothing new in the line of electro-bands-that-use-live-instruments bands that stretches as far as the list of presets they use. Also, half-whispered lyrics may work on their album (because, you know, they’re too hip to actually sing), but hearing it live made every song sound the same.
Now, I had only minimal exposure to Crystal Castles before seeing them last night – the only song I’d heard was “Crimewave,” a decent track that has the same sort of sonic-indifference that I found so boring with Fujiya & Miyagi’s set. When the Canadian band emerged looking like the group of Nihilists from The Big Lebowski, I anticipated a set of hipster-douchebaggery that wasn’t worth schmoozing my way into VIP for. What I got was something completely different.
Rather than singing her way through the set, frontwoman Alice Glass more or less screamed her way through it. Jumping, parading, rolling around the stage, the waify little Canadian had the audience by the balls. When she got close to the audience, people just wanted to reach out and touch her; even the front-row photographers put their thousand-dollar cameras at risk to touch her hand when she reached out. On numerous occasions, she made her way on top of the crowd, rolling over the sea of hands and refusing assistance from the bouncers who wanted her back on stage. You could tell that the audience almost resorted to moshing. It was single-handedly the most assaulting piece of electro-punk I’ve ever seen. And then, without saying a single word to the audience, they were done.
After the show, I ran into Ryan Powers of SLC electronic-clusterfuck Agape, who’s always such a joy to run into. He’s also a really funny guy. Next time you run into Mr. Powers, ask him about the tricks he can do with his iPhone. Fucking hilarious.
Agape does not play a showcase at CMJ.
Then I lost my CMJ somewhere between the club and the subway. And the night started out so well.
To be continued…?
(Ryan "Brian, if you're nasty" Bradford)