Article by: Kelly Milionis, Senior Contributing Writer/Interviewer/Reviewer
Photos by: Ellie Pritts
Wow! Can it be? Oh my! Chicago, what just happened? Believe it! The cavernous 86-year old Congress Theatre was just tamed by Alice Glass and Ethan Kath, known as Crystal Castles. The historic Congress Theater, built in 1926 as a movie theatre, has been notorious over the years for consistently bad sound, but met its proverbial match Friday night; it was a match made in heaven with Crystal Castles providing a never-ending onslaught of pulsating sights and deafening, bone-crushing sounds; an aural and visual feast. This was a perfect fit between artist and venue; sort of hand in glove, to use a cliché. And it was as if the "Wrath Of God" came down and really did help to slew the untamed beast.
To say this Crystal Castles performance was nothing short of a religious experience would be, hmmm, blasphemous to fathom. And, to say fans attending the show were somewhat fanatical would be a gross misstatement. Crystal Castles fans are musical zealots and they hold their Queen, Alice Glass, to the highest esteem; she is revered by all. And they all wanted a piece of their leader, wanted to touch their leader, wanted to hold their leader high in the crowd, as if raising a deity to the heavens. Imagine holding a magnet to a pile of paperclips, a magnetic force strikes the paperclips causing them to be pulled immediately together as one. The same could be said for worker bees swarming to be around their queen bee. That was the sight all night surrounding Glass: simply amazing. Standing at the edge of the stage, she slowly walked onto a sea of hands, gave herself freely as her minions held her safely while she glided around, back and forth, always a safe journey with a return to the stage awaiting just the right moment for another attempt.
As if the show could not get any better, the pure unadulterated bliss of the frenetic light show added immensely to the intensity of their performance. And, Crystal Castles made no use of a spotlight so fans felt as if they were heavily involved; they were channeled directly into the music and completely entranced by the silhouette of Glass against the backdrop of a myriad of ever-changing colored and white lights and strobe lights; uniquely powerful and quite sexy.
Crystal Castles are known for their heavy use of synthesized video game sounds and combine electronic dance and indie pop/rock with a melodic and often chaotic vocal. There is an atmospheric or still quality to many of the songs, which lent greatly to the success of the show at the Congress Theatre. Awash in reverb or Glass vocals off in the distance, worked well in the room. And the heavy, thick bass and pounding drums went directly to where they were intended; into the bodies of those present. Personally, the unusual vibrations I felt all over my body and inside as well gave way to thoughts of my inner organs being subjected to a constant flattening against my spinal cord and ribcage attempting to get through my skin. As an old-fashioned writer, I still use pen and paper. I set my pen on top of my paper on a seat in the balcony. To my amazement, my pen was not only moving, it was bouncing; literally jumping up and down off the seat.
Many who attended this Crystal Castles show on this night were all in agreement on the success of the show and how fun and entertaining it really was:
- Kris Ross, from Champaign, IL, who just came in for the Crystal Castles performance stated, "Music is life, man, I know it is cliché, but the music is life! I almost had an epileptic seizure (in a good way), so the energy was incredible. I would give this show a million out of five rating; fucking orgasmic! My favorite songs were 'Xxzxcuzx Me' and 'Baptism.'"
- Morgan, from Chicago, who also attended with Kris, mentioned the show was "incredible and Alice is an incredible performer. I was front row, not able to crowd surf." Favorite Song: "Xxzxcuzx Me." Rating: 10 out of 10.
- Dane, from Roselle, IL, "The show was awesome!" Favorite Song: "Empathy". Rating: 10 out of 10.
- Alec, from Roselle, IL, who also attended with Dane explained this Crystal Castles concert "was one of the best shows I have ever seen. Alice Glass walked on the audience and it was so cool almost touching her!" Rating: 10 out of 10.
- Adrian, from Northwest Indiana, Favorite Song: "Crimewave", "That song that made them famous!"
- Renee Enriquez, from Chicago, IL, "It was awesome, so much sweating, everyone was trying to touch Alice Glass!" Favorite Song: "Not In Love."
- Nairobi, from Chicago, IL, "The show was chaotic and crazy!"
- Maria, from Chicago, IL, "Oh my god, it was amazing!"
- Jessica, from Beecher, IL, "The show was absolutely fantastic and the lights made everything better!" Favorite Song: "I love them all!"
- Eric, from Chicago, IL. Favorite Song: "Baptism."
- Zack Fritz, from Chicago, IL, "Oh man, I have to say the show was awesome, it was great, thank you!" Favorite Song: "Black Panther."
- Katia, from Russia, "the show was great. It was actually my fourth time seeing Crystal Castles and probably was the best!" Favorite Song: "Plague."
- Norma Vargas, from Southwest Chicago, at the beginning it was a little stressful cause it was so packed in the front. I was towards the front but I enjoyed it!" Favorite Song: "Empathy".
- Laticia Vargas, also from Southwest Chicago, " in the beginning of the show the front was too packed and that is where I was. I then walked to the back and I was too far back so I moved to the center and really enjoyed the show!" Favorite Song: "Not In Love" and "I loved the encore songs. If they would not have done it, I would have been upset!"
- Dana Vargas, also from Southwest Chicago, "I loved the overall show and I was down in front and I did not crowd surf, would have been a bit too much. The overall show was pretty good, especially toward the end cause I actually like try to take advantage of every song and started dancing so I thought it was pretty cool!" Favorite Song: "I would have to say it was "Empathy". I really liked it. I just got really into the mood when they played it and I just started dancing. Also another favorite "Not In Love", I really love that song and "Untrust Us", I really like that song too!"
On this night, it did not matter where you came from or even what song was your favorite because you simply enjoyed the entire show. Crystal Castles was hypnotic to watch, seamless in their transitions from song to song and truly electrifying in their performance. An intensity was felt that was purely genuine; an artist giving freely of their music to their adoring and accepting fans. So intense and pure it was, standing near the soundboard I noticed the sound and light crew and their guests dancing; yes, even they felt it was perfect. Kudos to them and Crystal Castles for taming the Congress Theatre. Crystal Castles at the Congress Theatre will forever be branded on the brain as a truly memorable experience; never to be forgotten.