The Crystal Method Stereo Live July 17, 2014
Over the past two decades, the Crystal Method has cleared the way for electronic artists to flourish today. Their debut album, Vegas, was released in 1997 and today is iconic in the world of electronic music, while Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland have remained relevant by releasing five more studio albums, multiple collaborations with mainstream artists, a large number of commercials and contributed to a vast array of video game and movie soundtracks.
This year the duo is celebrating their 20th anniversary together with a tour supporting their latest, self-titled album that stopped at Stereo Live Thursday night. It was the third time that I have attended a Crystal Method show, the most recent being in 1998 when the music media was hyping up electronica as the next being thing. One Houston Press article described their music as a bunch of beeps and bloops that created melodies.
I remember going to purchase the tickets at the Record Rack on Shepherd Drive. I also recall either a radio interview or a local article that warned concertgoers to expect something different than a normal concert - you would be disappointed if you attended expecting to see people playing instruments and moving around on stage, it said.
That performance was at the Orbit Room on McKinney, in EaDo before there was an EaDo. The duo was on a small platform with their machines on the table, banging out tracks from Vegas. I recall the minimal lights, just enough to display the shape of their faces, and the smoke, probably that of the chain-smokers in the audience.
That show also seemed be over very quickly, and I left that night feeling like I wanted more. I wasn't disappointed, but something was just missing from the performance. Thursday night was a much different experience, with everything from the stage setup and sound system to the bartenders much better suited for an electronic-music concert.
Even though their sound has stayed true, the other areas of their performance are much different compared to 20 years ago. They have their craft nailed, which allowed them to interact with the crowd much more. Jordan walked to the front of the stage several times, smiling and throwing his hands up to hype up the crowd, which bounced to old anthems like "Keep Hope Alive" and their newest track "Over It."
Kirkland's control of the synthesizers and other instruments was reflected in the way he twisted his face, screamed at the drops and interacted with the crowd. He worked an instrument that looked like it could be a steampunk creation, a melded turntable melded with two bass-guitar necks and a synthesizer, with an energy level that matched the most enthusiastic younger dancers in the crowd.
Not many people would believe he was a man in his forties who has recovered from brain surgery over the past year, but Jordan appeared simply happy to have his bandmate by his side while the duo did what they loved.
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There were many highlights during the night, but the remix of Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus" caught most everyone off guard. The elders in the crowd seemed stunned for a quick moment until they processed exactly what they were hearing. Then it became a frenzy on the dance floor, with heads bobbing and bodies weaving.
Traveling VJ Morgan Lavery or Infinight Productions was in charge of the visuals, which set the electronic shows apart from other concerts. Standing stage right, he matched the videos and images perfectly with his cohort's sounds.
Just after 2 a.m., the duo responded to the crowd's request for "one more song" and blasted a remix of "High Roller" as their encore. These two men interacted with each other like elated young boys jamming to their older brother's newly discovered music when no one was home watching them for the first time. They were free. They were vulnerable. They were happy.
The Crowd: Consisted almost equally of grown-up "ravers" in grown-up clothes and a younger EDM crowd dressed in tank tops, furry boots and neon bracelets. The two groups meshed together wonderfully, dancing and enjoying each other until the early morn -- save for one fight in the balcony, but peace was quickly restored.
Overheard In the Crowd: "I think they found all the prettiest girls and recorded them making their ugliest faces" - as the visuals ran through a circuit of ladies' faces getting blasted with bass faces
Random Notebook Dump: Stereo Live has Frozen Redbull & vodka. You should experience these wonderful concoctions on a hot summer night.
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