Sam, Chelsea, and I shoved our way to the front of the crowd so we could have the “true” Crystal Castles experience that all of our friends had told us about. They were supposed to go on in ten minutes, but they came on probably about thirty minuets late. Then again, we were packed together so tightly that I wasn’t able to lift my hands see what time it was anyway. Everybody stood screaming, “Alice! Alice!” for about half an hour until she and her sound mixer Ethan came onstage. Instantly, we all felt the energy that she could command from us. As she screamed each note into the microphone, we felt both more scared of and more attracted towards her. Loud bass beats and fog filled the air, and everyone in the crowd had so much energy. I was confused as to why Alice was stumbling around the stage, but it made sense once I realized how intoxicated she was. She was so drunk that at one point in the middle of a song she jumped right on top of us. Every person watching bent towards her to try and touch her. It felt like we were about to fall…or maybe be squished. Who knows.
She got pushed back on stage, pulled out a cigarette, and finished the song. All the while, Ethan stood huddled in the corner with his laptop, mixing the songs. He had his black hood up, and was lit only by the faint light from his computer.
(Photo by Chelsea Peacock)
Getting home that night, I kept thinking, “What is it about her that is such a commanding presence?” I talked to a few of my friends about their experiences with Crystal Castles. One said that they saw her at a community show a long time ago where Alice had crowd surfed while holding a 40 of Jack Daniel’s that poured down people’s throats. My other friend said that when she saw Alice perform a long time ago, she got on top of a speaker while singing and accidentally made the entire thing fall over. “Alright,” I thought, “She’s obviously dangerous and unpredictable, but I still don’t understand what is so special about her. Is she any more special than any other drunken pretty girl?”
Maybe I’ll never completely understand what it is that allures me so much, but I think it must be what her look represents to me. It’s not like I know her personally, so my attraction must be at some superficial level. My attraction can’t possibly stem from very much I know about her. She has jet-black hair, bright eyes, and pale skin that to me are associated with toxicity, darkness, black magic, and mercuriality. At age fourteen, she ran away from home to live with a squat community. At least in my mind, I always compare her with Cathy Ames from John Steinbeck’s novel East of Eden. They’re the kind of women that you would do anything to have a conversation with, but you would never want to get too close with. Cathy and Alice both have so much power over people, and there’s something fascinating about people who have an inherent power to manipulate.
Many would agree with me that a Crystal Castles show isn’t about the music at all; it’s about the energy you’re surrounded with, the pounding sensations, Alice’s dark beauty, and the unpredictability of it all. She is distinctive and doesn’t try very hard to be. In her words, “My make-up routine involves putting a bunch of black stuff on my eyes…. I don’t really care or think about how I look. I wouldn’t wear something I didn’t like, but I’ve never had a real job so no one’s ever told me how to dress.”
A few weeks ago I read that she performed with a broken leg, and was still able to put on the same energy-filled performance as usual. That’s not even the first time she has performed injured – she’s done it with broken ribs, too. Alice Glass, even though I probably know nothing about you, I will always remain fascinated by your power to create energy and have a good time.