Home > Reviews > Live Reviews > 27/03/2011 | Crystal Stilts – The Arches, Glasgow

27/03/2011 | Crystal Stilts – The Arches, Glasgow

Kim Clarke-Overy


‘We’re just having a capo break, make the most of it’, laughs Kyle Forester, Crystal Stilts keyboardist. The Brooklyn-based band had just blasted The Arches with ‘Sycamore Tree’ – the opening track from new album ‘In Love with Oblivion’, leaving the crowd stunned by the cacophony of noise produced by the five-piece.

Noise is probably the most succinct way to describe Crystal Stilts’ live performance. Both studio albums (2008’s ‘Alight of Night’ and ‘In Love with Oblivion’) are reasonable efforts. Lead singer Brad Hargett Morrissey-esque lyrics paint a half-decent narrative: ‘Backward I brood and forward I dream for figments of existence’ he croons on ‘The Dazzled’, but the vocals are lost during this set, drowned out by a mix of incessant bass and grating keyboard. It is a blessing when the keyboard amp blows out 10 minutes into the performance, as it allows Hargett’s voice to penetrate through the damp of The Arches.

The crowd seem to be uninspired by the so-called ‘noise pop’ emanating from the stage – only a few are dancing, most settle on tapping feet and bobbing heads. Fair enough, the songs are not especially cheerful, but Crystal Stilts could benefit from a lesson in building rapport – Hargett barely acknowledges the audience, letting Forester fill time in the breaks between songs.

Crystal Stilts could do well as a Smiths or Joy Division tribute band – tracks from ‘In Love with Oblivion’ particularly could have been written for Ian Curtis. They bring nothing new to the music scene and fail to get the audience worked up – applause is luke-warm, unusual for a Glasgow gig – crowds are normally pretty rowdy. They need to polish their live presentation – have equipment ready, work on their patter and at the very least, give the impression that they enjoy playing.