Review: Crystal Antlers deliver a performance of passion at Crowbar
The highly lauded Crystal Antlers brought their soul-inspired psychedelic garage rock sounds to Crowbar on Friday.
Hailing from Long Beach, Calif., they have the honor of their first full-length album being the final new release on the legendary Touch and Go record label. No matter their exact genre, T&G bands (TV on the Radio, Calexico and The Jesus Lizard are a few that come to mind) are known to have a high level of musicianship and intense live shows. Crystal Antlers were signed to this label for a reason. Sadly, they will have to find a new home for future releases. Thankfully, that won’t be a problem.
The five-piece band took to the stage and unleashed a furious wall of sound. Through out the set, the bass, drums and percussion locked into a pounding groove that demanded attention. Fighting them every step of the way were the guitar and organ. They each produced unearthly sounds that, on their own, would chill you to the bone. Sounds that one should not be able to extract from either instrument mixed together and swirled out of the P.A. system.
Cutting through this aural tidal wave were Jonny Bell’s raspy and seasoned vocals. He sang and screamed with a sense of urgency and purpose that is often reserved for a more seasoned vocalist. Somehow, through all the fuzz, feedback and reverb, the songs remained very tuneful. Melody, time changes and complex rhythmic stops and starts all managed to be birthed from what, on the surface, should have been a complete (yet beautiful) mess.
In addition to impressing musically, the passion with which Crystal Antlers performs is just as incredible. Every note is played with conviction; as if it’s the last one the band will ever play. Percussionist Damian Edwards’ shear exuberance helped bring the crowd into the band’s world for the night. If he wasn’t adding to the pulsing rhythm, he was joyfully dancing around, giving a balance to the seriousness of his band mates.
At separate points during the show, the crowd carried both guitarist Andrew King and bassist Bell off the stage in mid-song. By the end of the set, some bottles were broken, a few people rolled around in a pile on the floor and a young, talented band gave a near master class in the art of modern rock 'n’ roll.
-- Gabriel Loewenberg, tbt*