REVIEW | What Do You Want? Crystal Castles – Synergy 2015

Crystal Castles Syn

By Eliza Cro Day

They weren’t what you expected. But what did you expect?

This is Ethan Kath and the eerie, alluring Edith. They chose to tour their brand new set for the very first time at Synergy Live in South Africa this past weekend. The mysterious E. K and a drummer arrived in the darkness of the stage, smoked over; black and hooded Ethan behind the decks, the drummer brooding to the side and finally, Edith, a diaphanous wisp, tall and luminescent in some kind of floaty, period dress that hung down past her knees.

Everyone was waiting for her. This was the new girl Ethan had chosen to replace the infamous Alice Glass; the previous performer and crazed, kohl-eyed waif who broke boundaries, stages and the world’s heart when she was kicked out/left Crystal Castles last year.

Alice was a fucking epic performer who changed the scene and aesthetic with her sad yet furious, street-child style and hollow, teenage witch screams. It sucks that she left the vibe but you can bet she’ll be back in her own way somewhere else. She’s a force of non-nature.

Anyway, whatever, let’s talk about this show at Synergy. I’ve seen all your bleak feedback about not hearing “Not in Love ft. Robert Smith of The Cure,” “Magic Spells” and “Untrust Us.” There was a complimentary sample of the latter to open up the set, a tribute to the ghost of Alice. Then they launched into their new sound; a stripped down, less synthy, more lo-fi, reverb laden composition that I totally loved. It’s just more contemporary and come on, man, why the ef would Ethan want to jam his albums that are seven years old when he’s got a new singer and touring a new set? That wouldn’t even make sense. He played his music; he wasn’t there to pretend Alice was still around and just slotting a new replacement in to cover her. At the end of the day, this isn’t about what you like, it’s about what the artist feels like doing. Basically, it’s not selling out; something people throw shade for all the time.

Also, the whole backlash for, “it was just a DJ set,” thing. I don’t really get that when the composition has totally changed. Were people expecting guitars? Have you listened to “Frail”? To me, Ethan creating the beats, Edith singing into a mic and a drummer still makes a live set. I expect they don’t want instruments seeing as it doesn’t match the direction anymore. The Rolling Stones didn’t ALWAYS have a brass section or a choir of gospel singers on each and every album.

Dude, Europe and the US gets these guys on the regular to play shows for them. The crowd can’t listen to the same song over and over. Be amped that you got the first show from the latest Crystal Castles set. Be relevant.

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Rumoured to have the blue-prints for Krang's TechnoDrome, stolen straight from Dimension X, he’s the type of guy who exudes so much coolness that he adds whole countries on Facebook at one time instead of just people. Always up for a party and a Tequila shot or two this is the guy who we always call first, both before and after a night out…


  1. I watched there whole set and was utterly disgusted with the following.

    1. They stretched the speakers so much speaker where distorting.
    2. They made actual mistakes you could notice.
    3. They just stood there and did nothing to pull the crowd in to the set was bland as Ricoffy.
    4. The way they ended and just walked off the stage whilst the song was still playing and still distorting the speakers was kak un professional.
    5. Hands down dont ever bring this act back to SA was horrible to watch.
    6. The crowd could not wait for them to finish it was that painful

    New FLUX PAVILLION Super fan

  2. Hey Clinton,
    First of all, I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy the opening show of Crystal Castles’ international tour. Secondly, I’m sorry that you feel the need to tell everybody else what they are and are not allowed to enjoy, “Hands down don’t ever bring this act back to SA was horrible to watch”.
    I live in South Africa and would very much like to watch them again. Are there other artists in the universe you would also prefer I, nor anybody else watched?
    Thirdly, why don’t you bring out a musician you like? If you don’t like reverb and distortion then don’t listen to music composed on that sound concept. Listen to something you want to hear, something that says, ‘Clinton’.

    Lastly, if you didn’t dance, that’s a YOU problem. This isn’t the Macarena. It’s a live option we at the Southern tip of the globe rarely get.

    To go back to the title of this piece: What do you want?

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