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Crystal Castles deliver righteous fury for troubling times at ACL

Ramon Ramirez

Long live the new Crystal Castles.

2007’s coolest iPod band arrived on the Honda Stage  Friday with a towering wall of live drum-spiked electronic music. Singer Edith Frances jumped, yelled, whispered lyrics, and dropped the mic just to force patrons into hearing a loud thud.

The Toronto band was in attack mode: During a week where nonstop headlines revealed men abusing power at the highest levels of entertainment, Frances’ breakneck performance was the blunt-force, push-back pop that the occasion demanded. With Auto-Tuned and fuzzed-out vocals, her singing washed over Zilker Park—a roaring conscience that brought weight to the beach ball-littered field.

As drummer Christopher Chartrand soloed, producer Ethan Kath filtered in gobs is static. The atonal electroclash was uncompromising and brutal. You couldn’t help but to watch the black-attired trio, with matching dark masks, thrashing amid their purple and green lights.

Chartrand’s onstage black T-shirt read “homeland security,” an ironic and winking message that shimmered through the fog machine. Wearing dog tags, black gloves with zippers, and combat boots, the green hair-sporting Frances turned out Crystal Castles’ catalog. Her propensity to sway from her microphone stand like a scarecrow in a dust storm showed her fearless approach—and that the band’s best day’s may be on the horizon.

The three-piece collective seemed done back in 2014 when former singer Alice Glass announced an abrupt breakup via Facebook. But not so fast: Frances stepped in to write and sing, and the goth-tinged band kept the needle moving on last year’s “Amnesty.”

Crystal Castles offered hypnotic and frenetic synthesizer lines that rumble your insides. Frances made legacy songs like “Crimewave” and “Vanished” all her own. Even the students in basketball jerseys stared with bewildered respect.

Frances went almost the entire set without speaking to her audience, but turned the ending into an occasion to stage dive. The band abruptly left the stage at Stubb’s last year after two songs, and here finished the fight.