Before this show, I honestly did not know much about the London-via-Spain electronic five-piece, but as soon as the performance ended, I rectified this terrible mistake and conducted research on the intriguing band. The most appealing quality that this group possesses is its versatility. Yes, it is an electronic outfit, but it’s so much more than that. When lead vocalist Sebastian Pringle stepped on stage, he looked out of place amongst the barricade of synthesizers. Dressed in ragged clothes and long hair tied up in a bun, he looked like he should be part of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, not an electro band. This observation only strengthened when the musician played instruments like the ukulele, bell, tambourine, and acoustic guitar during the set. It was interesting to hear these, as well as the txalaparta (a specialized Basque music device made of wood), accompanying deafeningly loud bass and dubstep-tinged electronics, but the result sounded so natural that I didn’t question the dichotomy; I respected it.
I also respected the band’s amount of energy and chemistry on stage. Despite his lackadaisical appearance, Pringle’s energy was explosive. As he sang at the top of his lungs, he passionately ran and jumped all over the stage. This was true for all of the band’s members. Gilbert Vierich leapt from guitar to synthesizers to txalaparta seamlessly, as did guitarist Graham Dickson to join Vierich in ruthlessly pounding the large, wooden blocks. Female vocalist, Mimi Borelli, stole the audience’s heart. The petite singer seductively sang into her microphone and sauntered to the side of the stage, dancing and interacting with the audience, when she had a vocal break. The crowd, which had been relatively stiff all night, fed off this energy and the Echoplex exploded into a dance party.
Crystal Fighters played all of the tracks on its debut full-length, Star of Love, which was released in 2010 in UK and 2012 in the U.S. And despite the fact that it was past 1 am when the quintet said goodnight, the crowd was not ready to leave, cheering and screaming until the band obliged with a quick encore.
I’m not usually a fan of dubstep, but this group’s ability to fuse it with Basque folk is melodic and interesting. My ears are still ringing from its bombastic sound, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
All photos by Thom Brekke