Review of Crystal Castles & Health live at Nottingham Rock City, Thursday 21st October 2010

HEALTH may seem like strange touring partners to Crystal Castles at first glance if you were not aware of their previous collaborations. Yet they fit perfectly, putting the hedonistic synthetic blasts of the headliners into actual songs and smothering them with devastating percussion. Drummer Jupiter Keyes is the bands' centrepiece and everyone else feeds off him, pirouetting across the stage, screaming through digital effects and occasionally stabbing at an instrument as his unrelenting tribal patterns force the venue into submission.

Crystal Castles

'We Are Water' and 'Die Slow' are perhaps not helped by this, with samples sounding weak below the ever present bassdrum, but the entire spectacle is phenomenal and one that is met with a surprising amount of adulation and dancing from the 2/3rds full venue.

For all of Crystal Castles' reputation as 2D nu-rave chancers there is plenty of interest if you can see past the attention-seeking, childishly snotty vocals of lead vocalist Alice Glass. They begin with a deafening whirlwind of high-end feedback akin to My Bloody Valentine's fabled 'holocaust' fed through a MIDI synthesiser, and keep up the tempo throughout. For much of the set Alice's whines are, thankfully, drowned out by Ethan Kath's razor sharp bitcore beats and sine waves, leaving her to be little more than a cheerleader. Which admittedly she does well, whipping the mostly mid-teen crowd into even more of a frenzy.

As the last of the air goes from the nu-rave bubble it is likely that there is not much life left in the band but Crystal Castles are a much more interesting live prospect than their reputation or recordings would have you believe, and if things do go sour then hopefully Ethan will find a better partner for his eardrum piercing electronics.

Jordan Dowling

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