What happened with Crystal Castles’ disastrous SXSW set?

Friday was a bad night to be a Crystal Castles fan. First, a scary bout of lightning in downtown Austin pushed the South by Southwest set times at Stubb’s later than planned. Then the Canadian electronic act, originally slated to hit the stage at 10 p.m., didn’t go on until well after 11 p.m. Once Ethan Kath, joined by new singer Edith Frances in a beret and overcoat, did begin the set, the skittering sonic clash only lasted about 10-15 minutes.

Press photo
Press photo

The band left the stage abruptly. What a waste of the white LED bracelets handed out in front of the venue.

While the “Not In Love” group was actually on the stage — which looked like a dragon, such was the smoke vomiting into the amphitheater — their performance was loud, post-verbal, loud, nightmarish, loud, tinny and cacophonous. Which, truth be told, is pretty on-brand. But fans at Stubb’s were confused and audibly upset by the premature denouement.

So what happened? According to reports on social media, sound issues might have been to blame.

That could check out. Santigold, who performed more than an hour later after Charli XCX and Sophie, spent her entire set pressing the production crew to correct her own sound difficulties.

Regardless of reason, a two or three song set was probably not part of Crystal Castles’ plan for the evening.


Friday night’s fiasco was not the band’s only SXSW dust-up this year. Crystal Castles was removed from a Tumblr showcase highlighting feminist issues after comments made by Kath in the past about the band’s ex-singer Alice Glass resurfaced online.

Author: Eric Webb

Eric Webb is a web producer for the Austin American-Statesman and Austin360. He blogs about Austin culture, pop culture and anything that lives on the Internet.

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