Sunday, 1 March 2009

Crystal Stilts – 13 February 2009, Brixton Windmill

We all know there are too many ‘Crystal…’ bands at the mo. I especially get Crystal Stilts and Crystal Antlers confused because both involve appendages to the body, albeit at opposite ends. Crystal STILTS are the ones we’re concerned with here. The Mary Chainy, Velvetsy ones. You can put them in a little box tied with a bow (probably fashioned from a scraggy old Ramones tee-shirt) along with The Vivian Girls and The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. All hail from New York bearing fuzzy, buzzy indie pop gifts. All of them make me go a bit nostalgic for late eighties feedbackery. Crystal Stilts are at the more garagey end of the fuzzpop spectrum and tonight I discover they’re a darn sight more POP! than I was expecting, not to mention irresistibly danceable. Hair swinging, Chelsea boot stamping danceable - the only dance it’s really possible to do in the confined space of a packed Windmill, although a couple of girls nearby do their utmost to really irritate everyone by doing ‘ooh look at me, I’m so free!’ arm wavey dancing.

The star of the show has to be Crystal Stilts’ cute (ex-Vivian Girl) stand up drummer Frankie Rose. She manages to be the most engaging member of the band despite being positioned in the far back corner of the stage, bashing away at a three piece kit providing the crashing backbeat that makes you move. Also she has a tiny dress on. Meanwhile, up front singer Brad seems to be having one long seizure, eyes three quarters closed and rolled back mumbling out the words in a sub-sonic rumble beneath the clattering cacophony of guitars ‘n’ swivelly sixties organ (played by Steph from Shrag).

Live, the ghost train reverb of Crystal Stilts album is less apparent, the Velvet Underground clackety groove bursting forth. To prove the point there’s an encore of ‘Temptation Inside Of Your Heart' which cranks along sweetly, tracing a forty year old trail of sticky footprints from Manhattan to Brooklyn.

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