Crystal Stilts and caUSE co-MOTION! at Chop Suey, Seattle | 9 November 2008
I’m probably ruining their street cred by saying this, but Brooklyn’s Crystal Stilts seem like a genuinely pleasant band. I’m not talking about their music, but their disposition. In my head, I imagined them as this dark brooding band. On record they’ve got a moody black feel that borders on goth. The bass sounds like it’s plunging 20,000 leagues, the rattlesnake guitars are put through watery reverb, and Brad Hargett’s vocals are also heavily treated he almost seems like he’s singing in slow motion or under the effect of severe downers barely enunciating his words. On paper it may sound depressing, but the band ably traverses this murky ominous haze of sound making their songs engaging and even uplifting. Are you Happy When if Rains? Is Everything is Alright When Your Down? Then the Crystal Stilts are a band for you. As they were taking the stage last night, the band were all smiles, I wasn’t sure it was the right Crystal Stilts. Keyboard player Kyle Forrester and Ex-Vivian Girl drummer Frankie Rose are the extroverts in the band keeping the banter up between songs and the mood light. Forrester was a sight to see keeping his tiny keyboard on a bar stool the entire set, I was amazed he could play it on top of this big cushiony bar stool.
They ripped through a short set hitting all of the highlights from their early eps and the new Alight of Night album. They stuck mostly with the quicker songs keeping the pace quick. Hargett’s vocals had the same delivery as on record, except a little less reverb giving them a slightly different feel that reminded me of another Slumberland band the Ropers. Hargett is a presence on stage even though he doesn’t move around that much, his tall thin frame and Bob Dylan Hair keep your attention. The songs literally cracked from the PA mostly due to JB Townsend. His guitar was much more front and center making it easy to pick out and latch on to his jagged Bo Diddly riffs. Up until last night my favorite Crystal Stilts song was Crippled Croon (which they opened with), but after hearing the new song Sycamore Tree, I think I may have a new favorite. It’s akin to the Muslim’s cover of Spacemen 3’s Walking with Jesus a repetitive rocker with the Hargett emphatically delivering the chorus of I Wanna Know Why!
For their last song which seemed to be a genuine encore since Hargett was dismantling his effects pedals, before the rest of the band came back on stage. They invited their friends and tour mates caUSE co-MOTION! (did I get the capitalization right?) on stage. caUSE co-MOTION! bum rushed the stage, a couple of them jumping on stage to singing backing vocals while the rest of the band clapped an hollered from the front row. It seemed like the perfect ending to these two band’s west coast tour.
caUSE co-MOTION! are a brother band to the Crystal Stilts in a couple ways. They both call NYC home and have new records out on Slumberland. But where Crystal Stilts look to the more downbeat influences of the mid 80’s, caUSE co-MOTION! like the more adrenaline hyper, nearly punk rock bands of the same era. The Television Personalities and Beat Happening come to mind, and Singer Arno even looks and sounds a little like Calvin. caUSE co-MOTION! songs are perfect for making you move and the band set a good example by leaping and shaking about on stage. The bass player excelled at this, he was so hyper with his jumping and dancing that I thought he could have taken off the base and been a Wojteck or Bez for the band. All of their songs are less than two minutes long going straight in for the hook. They’re kind of od’ing on Halloween candy without the sugar withdrawl. Though I do hope they’ll come back out to the west coast, because maybe it is withdrawal I’m experiencing.