Live Music + Gig Reviews

Crystal Stilts @ Lexington, London

16 February 2009

Already causing the bloggers of the indie world to get moist in unison, Crystal Stilts tonight attempt to demonstrate that they’re more than just the cool US band playing in the capital this week.

They’re joined on keyboard duties by Shrag‘s Stephanie Goodman, though it’s hard to tell as the keyboard proves barely audible.

This is a crushing blow, given that their keyboards are what make half the songs on debut LP Alight Of Night as special as they are.

But Cramps’ style hooks are still sent soaring through the heaving North London sweatbox that is the Lexington. Front man Brad Hargett’s voice is on top form. His gentle swagger behind the microphone is at times endearing but his body lauguage (and everyone else’s in the room) is static and disinterested, as if they’re trying to get the gig over as quickly as possible.

That Hargett barely says a word throughout somewhat confirms this. Of course, such a stage posture is nothing new; The Strokes were never fond showmen even at their peak and still got the masses flocking to huge venues. That said, some of the songs are truly excellent, Crippled Croon in particular being perhaps the only moment to truly match the quality of their recorded output.

But worryingly even then the crowd’s response is muted. Given the hype surrounding the band it comes as quite a surprise that barely a cheer is raised when they introduce themselves, suggesting the need to be impressed was in the air.

When they trudge off after just 40 minutes, there is little appeal for an encore. It’s a depressing thought, but with the likes of Vivian Girls and dozens of others flying over to impress in recent months, maybe London crowds are beginning to suffer from fatigue where American indie bands are concerned.

Sure it takes more than a Brooklyn zipcode for what one would consider a rapturous response, but we can only hope the Crystal Stilts are just having an off night. A record as good as this band’s debut doesn’t deserve to be shrugged off among other indie also-rans.

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More on Crystal Stilts
Crystal Stilts – Nature Noir
Crystal Stilts – In Love With Oblivion
Crystal Stilts @ Luminiare, London
Crystal Stilts – Alight Of Night
Crystal Stilts @ Lexington, London