Crystal Fighters @ The Anson Rooms, Bristol, 29/12/2013

Crystal FightersBefore Crystal Fighters come on stage at the sold-out Anson Rooms, the place is buzzing. It might be the bustle of the alcohol-fuelled students filling 90% of the venue which charges the atmosphere, or it could be the suspense and anticipation. This is a band whose reputation for high-energy live shows defines them, after all. As bottle-shaped missiles circulate overhead, it becomes clear that it’s a case of the latter fuelled by the former. We’re still only dancing to the playlist which bridges the gap between support and main attraction, and the people in front of me are sticky with (what appears to be) beer. The tone is set.

Trying to describe Crystal Fighters to someone who has never listened to them before is a challenging task. You can pigeonhole them with genre labels, explain how they’re probably the most festival-ready band to exist, and describe the Spanish element which flavours their sound, and they’ll still have no idea. You can’t even play the comparing-them-to-similar-bands card, because this is a band who sound kind of – gasp - different, to other people.

A dub step-esque vibe is what precedes the sextet. It does a good job of further hyping up a crowd who erupt like a shaken can of fizzy drink exploding all over the place as Crystal Fighters spill onto stage. They brazenly broadcast an affection for everything bejewelled, glittery and tie-dye as they jump and wave their clashing, noisy outfit-attired bodies around to set-opener “Solar System”. Though at points the voices of the two girls falter, their energy is relentless; it fails to diminish as the band work their way through tracks from their debut album Star of Love and more recent Cave Rave. “Plage” is a romantic, audience-uniting sing-along in the midst of tracks where dancing is the focus and “Love Natural” picks up moods already sky high in a fleeting whirlwind of lyrics like “the time for love is here and now.” From hands shaped into hearts during “Love Is All I Got” to a crowd-satisfying drum solo and the bass-fond, synth-heavy electronic distortion of “In the Summer”, what ties it all together is the sheer infectiousness of the whole thing.

Lead singer Sebastian Pringle’s voice is a cloudless and breezy against a background combining charming Spanish guitar and the noise of banging blocks on a wooden xylophone-like instrument. As “Wave” and “Bridge of Bones” play out over an audience wearing sweat as a sign of their enthusiasm, the energy slows to make way for a moment. Crystal Fighters make you feel how you feel experiencing the bittersweet realisation that summer, along with this set, is drawing to a close.

It’s difficult to pinpoint particular highpoints because the entire gig is one brimming with smile-inducing moments and sun kissed anthems: in creating an evening which feels like a rare moment of bliss, Crystal Fighters do a top job of bringing their reckless, hedonistic love of rave to a Bristol Student Union-shaped cave.

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