Crystal Castles at Ultra Music Festival March 27
Say you're playing the 1983 Atari console game Crystal Castles, in which Bentley Bear must collect gems to advance. Bentley accidentally ingests a jewel and falls through a hallucinogenic tunnel that spirals into a secret level filled with panicky confusion, abrasive synths, and warbled voices that morph into machine-distorted screeches and chaotic, 100-mph, eight-bit electronic euphoria that ends with broken beer bottles, fistfights, and a heavily eye-lined pixie telling the whole crowd of wandering characters to fuck off.
Toronto natives Alice Glass and Ethan Kath swear those aren't the origins of the band, and the identical name is just a coincidence, but we have our doubts. The group's macabre brand of dance music seems easily plucked from a distorted, nightmarish videogame soundtrack in which robots dance to "Baptism," a screamy electro-thrash track laced with looping lo-fi bleeps off the group's second album; or "Tell Me What to Swallow," an almost opposite effort of melancholy acoustic guitar over chill, down-tempo-ish beats.
And even further proof is Glass's propensity to play the monster role — infamously punching a security guard, hitting fans, and throwing herself into delirious mosh pits that end in violence at the group's shows.
But all of that might be changing. A writeup in wannabe avant-garde girlie mag Nylon and an official VEVO video usually signify the end days of Brooklyn basement sets and indie-festival all-nighters. Crystal Castles' sold-out Grand Central show ended in balls-out chaos. But Ultra might feature a more cheerful, neon-peppy, candy-raver crowd less inclined to reckless abandon. Unless, of course, Crystal Castles succeeds in mind-warping them to a secret level.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.