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Live Review: Crystal Castles, Crooked Colours

5 June 2017 | 3:51 pm | Guido Farnell

"Frances doesn't quite bring the angsty punk attitude of Glass but puts her own spin on the Crystal Castles back catalogue."

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Local three-piece Crooked Colours kick off the evening with their polished electro-pop sounds that are easily filed away under indie dance. Their elegantly constructed songs rather politely try to balance out dance and rock to deliver a sound that has been popular for some years now. Crooked Colours provide light ahead of the darker shades of Crystal Castles. Tonight, the lads play a selection of new material from an album that is expected to be released in the next few months. The beats and synths suggest a preference for dance music but Forum Theatre is slow to fill this evening and almost no one takes the opportunity to cut the rug.

The departure of the inimitable Alice Glass from Crystal Castles has polarised fans and pundits alike. This evening it also feels like Glass has taken a substantial portion of the outfit's fanbase with her. Where once the duo would pull large crowds eager to dance the night way, it's only a medium-sized crowd of young enthusiastic Goths that fill the floor at the Forum Theatre tonight. Ethan Kath stands brooding behind his arsenal of synths that deal an impressively booming wall of synth noise. The beats are stadium-sized and Kath, with his roots in chiptune and electro-tech, works up a sweat over the dark industrial vibes he builds. The duo makes every effective use of ten strobe lights and a lot of smoke machines, creating an environment that would be an epileptic's worst nightmare. The unrelenting strobe initially feels harsh, like it's going to do some permanent damage to your retinas, yet after a while, it starts to feel strangely hallucinatory and this seems to be exactly where Crystal Castles would like you.

Glass, a pure-bred riot grrrl, has left big shoes for her replacement, Edith Frances, to fill. While Glass is an angsty screamer, there is more control and subtlety in Frances' vocals. A waif of a girl, she douses herself liberally with litres of water, flicks her lime green hair and confidently stalks the stage like a wild animal. Frances doesn't quite bring the angsty punk attitude of Glass but puts her own spin on the Crystal Castles back catalogue. A girl with something to prove to Australian audiences, Frances turns in a powerhouse performance, shining on the material from the last Crystal Castles album on which she worked. Crystal Castles fly in the face of EDM fashion, their irresistible beats come with a certain darkness but they deliver the party on their terms. It is even more reassuring to see that their loyal fanbase of roughed up punks and goths are still ready to dance the night away with a rowdy push and shove while spilling beer all over each other.