Leaving your band to break free from a cycle of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse is hard, but getting onstage and revisiting songs from that same band might just be harder. Alice Glass did exactly that last night (May 15) at The Sinclair, dusting off old Crystal Castles songs without so much as flinching.
As for any lingering rage, well, that was all still accounted for through her newer solo material.
Following the release of a 2017 self-titled EP, Glass, the former Crystal Castles frontwoman, released a graphic account of her time in the group, detailing the alleged continual abuse from bandmate Ethan Kath. Put in a situation where many people would shrink away from the spotlight, Glass shared her statement in the midst of her solo project picking up speed — and at the height of the #MeToo movement — right after touring with Marylin Manson.
When she opened her show last night with “Forgiveness,” a song explicitly about the desire to flee back into oblivion, it’s clear she’s still not out of the woods yet. But she’s fighting for it.
Building on the icy goth-pop of that 2017 EP, Glass’ in-person solo persona leans less towards her waif-ish instagram presence and more towards industrial band edge. Her actual band, however — a duo accompanying her on synths, guitar, and drums — provided a sonic boom that often drowned out the lyrical nuances of her piercing solo songs. “Without Love” can’t demonstrate its eerie but dogged drama when lyrics like “Tell me what to spit/Don’t tell me what to swallow” never have a proper chance to stand out and convey their chilling imagery. Given Glass’ limited catalogue for the time being, even with Crystal Castles cuts like “Alice Practice” and “Celestica” peppered into the set, the singer didn’t hit the 60-minute mark with her performance.
But none of that matters right now.
It doesn’t matter if Glass got onstage last night and yodeled for two hours Walmart-cowboy-kid style or read three texts before dropping the mic and walking offstage. Her sheer will to perform not only post-alleged-abuse from her Crystal Castles era, but to prop herself up onstage when everyone in the audience knows the darkest crevices of said abuse, thunders louder than the most spotless performance ever could.
“Get the FUCK off of me/Scream in silence” she screeched on “Natural Selection.” Compare the remark with her allegations regarding Kath and her candidness on the subject becomes even more admirable.
“He [Kath] held me over a staircase and threatened to throw me down it,” she wrote in her statement from last year. “He picked me up over his shoulders and threw me onto concrete. He took pictures of my bruises and posted them online.”
The graphic parallels hurt to listen to. How much the same trauma is magnified for Glass every time she has to reopen that same wound onstage is beyond comprehension from a third-person perspective. Even back in 2015, when Glass released her first solo single “Stillbirth,” the signs of her exploitation crept up in her lyrics; she ripped that sucker open again onstage too.
For all the damage she shared, though, Glass closed on a glimpse into her healing process.
On her new triumphant yet vehement single “Cease and Desist,” Glass executes an essential call to action, requesting that fellow abuse survivors push back — not necessarily without animosity, but for the sake of moving forward with their own lives. She ended the show on the same emboldened note.
It’s a lot to ask of her listeners. But to be fair, the world has asked a lot of her, too.