The Blog

May 16, 2009

Crystal Method @ House Of Blues (May 15th, 2009) 

by Maxim Porges @ 8:44 AM | Link | Feedback (0)

Kyle and I caught The Crystal Method show yesterday. I forgot my little Sanyo HD video camera that I usually sneak in to concerts, but I got a few half-decent shots with my phone.

I saw these guys at HOB about seven years ago, and they put on a decent show then, but the one last night was arguably the best show I have ever seen. The guys had loads of energy, and they played a great mix of tracks from their new album while mixing in the old classics.

Performing Live
For a hobbyist electronic musician like myself, it was interesting checking out their kit and the way they set up their live set. We were up in VIP so I got a pretty good picture of their kit from the side of the stage. Scott Kirkland is stage right, and Ken Jordan stage left.

The duo seemed to run 85-90% of their set off of sequencers, mainly the beats and the bassline/backing and vocal samples. Scott had two microphones, one set up with a vocoder where he did a little yelling on one of the new tracks. Scott spent most of the set playing the lead parts of TCM's various tracks, while Ken played supporting parts, except for a few tracks like "Keep Hope Alive" where Scott was playing the driving arpeggio and Ken played the lead. Between lead parts, Scott would also go to the rack and twiddle the filters on a filter bank of some kind; I know I have seen the model reviewed in Sound On Sound before but I couldn't remember the name of it.

TCM are huge fans of two synthesizers that make up the majority of their set, and have defined their sound for years: the Nord Lead (the red synth to Scott's left) and the Alesis Andromeda (the big one with loads of knobs to Scott's right). Scott also has what looks like either a drum machine or sampler between the Andromeda and his mixer, and then both guys had M-Audio Axiom controller keyboards. Scott also had an M-Audio Trigger Finger (hidden under his controller keyboard in my shot), presumably for firing samples. Finally, they had some guitar effects pedals/pedalboards, most notably a ProCo RAT that Scott had balanced on top if his Nord Lead and was firing off by giving it a solid bash occasionally.

One synth that Scott had that I did not recognize was an Arturia Origin (mounted above the drum machine in the shot). I couldn't really tell what sounds this was producing during the set, but I imagine they were using it as a filter bank.

Running the Set
The duo seemed to be set up with their whole rig time-synchronized, and since they didn't seem to do much set up between songs I can only imagine that they program their set in to their sequencer, and have it fire off program changes to all the synths on stage at the appropriate time in order to have the lead/support sounds ready to roll.

Each had a late 2008 MacBook Pro on their rig, so my guess would be that Scott's was running the sequences and Ken's was running software synths, unless they had both computers slaved to each other and playing sequences which I would find unlikely. As for the sequencer, it looked like Scott had Apple Logic's mixer view up on his laptop, but it could also have been Ableton Live - I wasn't able to get a good enough shot to zoom in and figure it out. Ken's screen was not facing the audience.

Scott really drives the show with the lead synths. He's a big fan of filter tweaking on stage, and used his mixer to manage the volume of whatever he was messing with so that the audience could hear it as he was doing it. Most of the interaction for the show came from Scott, and I must say he did an awesome job.

Overall, it was an awesome show, and most of what I have posted up here is a guess about their set, but an educated guess at least. Enjoy the pics, and make sure you check out TCM on their tour and their new album Divided By Night (links to iTunes) if you are so inclined.