Crystal Method

Fear of All Things Bleepy-Bleepy

The Aphex Twin
with the Crystal Method and Linoleum
The Rage
Vancouver, B.C.
Thursday, September 25, 1997

Review by Darren Gawle
Photography by Suzanne Goodwin

I get to the Rage with distinct misgivings about how good a time I'm going to have tonight, but then I hear that the Sneaker Pimps have cancelled. I've already been bored live once already by the newest additions to the trip-hop bandwagon, so maybe there is a God. But who is this Linoleum who've taken their place?

All Luddite (look it up in the dictionary) bets are on Linoleum tonight to win 'misguided' kids away from all this 'bleepy-bleepy' techno shit. All bets are off, though, as Linoleum turn out to be the best ever example of the British music industry's "sign 'em all, let the punters sort it out" school of signing talent (or the lack thereof). The general apathy of the band borders on the offensive, with half the audience unsure as to whether they'd rather shag singer Caroline Finch or simply chuck a bottle at her. Linoleum have their moments, but the effect is one of a band trying to sound like third-rate Elastica knockoffs.

Crystal Method I've been subject to the Crystal Method's work on only a couple of compilations (Plastic Vol. 1 and the Spawn soundtrack) until now, and doubtless there's more than a few persons in the audience more familiar with the Meth's work than I am, but fuck me if this stuff doesn't rock the free world. The Crystal Method stands alongside the Chemical Brothers as a prime example of the new breed of electronic music that's luring the kids away from three-chord guitar rock. Just listen to tonight's remix of "Can't You Trip Like I Do" (from the Spawn soundtrack) and you realize that Filter was only a ball and chain around the Meth's legs for the recording of the track.

Pretty much salvaging the beginning of the show from the generally listless state Linoleum has left us in, the Crystal Method show once again that a band can rock without a guitar in sight. That the duo on stage decides to add patented rock gestures like, er, shaking the keyboard stands a bit roughly seems a bit quaint in comparison to the antics Trent Reznor regularly treats us to... but, then again, Trent has the capital to blow on $50K worth of synths every night and the Crystal Method don't.

six foot teddy bears attack! It was only four days ago that Time magazine proclaimed him one of the world's top 50 'Cyber Elite,' so let's just consider ourselves lucky if we get an average show out of Mr. Richard D. James -- aka the Aphex Twin. (This, be forewarned, is the guy who showed up to DJ at a New York club a couple of years ago with nothing but a blender and an emery disc for the turntable.)

The Aphex Twin may be in the house, but where the hell is the little bleeder, anyhow? With a bit of shuffling around the crowd and some rubbernecking, you can just make him out, peering out from behind a pair of monitors, flat on his stomach like some new age sniper.

He's certainly got the body of work to hold an audience's attention, but, just in case, we are treated to an outlandish performance of simulated anal sex by two fluorescent six-foot teddy bears halfway through a remix of "4." Remember that article in the Georgia Straight a while back about society's preoccupation with abusing the poor people who have to wear these kind of suits? Well, tonight it's payback time. six foot teddy bears attack! One of our fuzzy fluorescent friends decides to attempt stagediving and then starts taking very un-teddy-like swings at anyone attempting to grapple him to the floor in front of the bar.

James meanwhile continues remixing his tunes beyond all recognition, except for the groundbreaking "Boy/Girl," which is an odd inclusion to the show because it consists of (a) a pre-recorded symphonic track, and (b) a pre-recorded drum track. All that's left for him to do is fine-tune the mix levels, and in the end, this version remains inferior to the album version.

Richard James truncates his show after a mere 45 minutes, and an evening of the good (the Crystal Method), the bad (Linoleum) and the surreal (the Aphex Twin) ends on a sour note as the heavens open up enough to soak us to the bone two seconds into our run for the car. I guess seeing the Sneaker Pimps again wouldn't have been such a bad thing compared to this after all...

First published in Drop-D Magazine on October 24, 1997

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