The Crystal Method at Stereo Live, 7/17/2014
The Crystal Method
Photos by Jack Gorman
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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