Ian Witlen The Crystal Method performing at Revolution in Fort Lauderdale. Click here to view the full slideshow.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Revolution Live, Fort Lauderdale
Better than: Revenge of the Nerds
When I spoke with The Crystal Method's Ken Jordan last week, he assured me that when he and his cohort Scott Kirkland hit town "they'd be pulling out all the stops."
Unfortunately, the stage at Revolution reportedly wasn't large enough to contain all the trickery the lads had up their well-developed sleeves. And last night's set was apparently bereft of some of the new tour's best elements. Oh, we got a show all right; we just didn't get the whole show TCM wanted to give us.
So, there was no massive swirl of fog; and no plastic exploding inevitable. There was though a stage full of orbs, of various dimensions and predilections, which pulsed above, below and behind the duo, each swinging and swirling and blinking and flashing with a frenzied insistence.
And, naturally, there was an aural assault of purely electronic
proportion. And TCM's trademark blips and beats and riffs and weirdness
all combined to create a glorious racket of measured cacophony and
barely bridled cool.
The thing is, these cats are more lab
tech than rock star, which may give hope to everyone who's ever had
sand kicked in their face, but in the end really doesn't provide the
kinda heat necessary to floor a crowd.
Well, at least not the
kinda heat necessary to floor me. I mean sure, Revolution's dancefloor
was packed to capacity and nary a soul stood still, even for a second.
But I kinda got the feeling that would've happened just as well had the
groove music been piped in from outer space -- or played by a DJ. Not
that TCM didn't trick out each track with a little extra flavor, and
not that the tricks didn't give the tracks that added oomph required by
a live show. But, sorry to say, neither Jordan or Kirkland have what
you'd really call stage presence, so to see them staging was, well,
kinda no big thing.
Both though did give it their all: Kirkland
letting out howls and shouts as he bandied about between racks of
miraculous gadgetry. And Jordan, in his "Make Green Not War" T-shirt,
who lapsed into an almost guitar hero pose while basically keeping
himself tethered to a laptop and a keyboard.
And the tracks,
even without a voice, are brilliantly executed slices of post
contemporary commentary, touching upon, with wild beatitude, such
subjects as self-determination ("Wild, Sweet and Cool"), predestination
("Bound Too Long"), dim-wittedness ("Born Too Slow") and utopia ("Trip
Like I Do"), not to mention, of course, the ubiquity of technology
But without the human element of, say, an Emily
Gaines or a Justin Warfield or a Matisyahu (to name but three of the
guest vocalists in TCM's just out Divided By Night), the set
lacked the heart heard when a soul is bared before you. In other words:
zeroes and ones rather than X's and O's, which is hardly the way to
sway this sweaty devil.
Like I say though, that's just me. And
last night's crowded house would undoubtedly wholeheartedly disagree.
Perhaps next time I'll stop looking and just listen, and let myself
also fall asunder. Then I too can become one with The Crystal Method.
Personal Bias: As
I mentioned, TCM's Divided By Night has a guest spot from Metric
vocalist Emily Gaines, who could whisper the user's manual to a
Commodore 64 and still leave me smitten.
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A bearded cat in a top hat half-bopping near the front of the stage
looked suspiciously like Joaquin Phoenix, and when our photographer Ian
Witlen started snapping the cat he stormed outta the club.
By the Way: Divided By Night can be downloaded at Amazon for the deliciously low price of $2.99. Really.