The Crystal Method’s pioneering reputation comes honestly, judging by their excellent set at Beta last Thursday night. Photos by Jason Claypool.
Swirling, spinning, flying glowsticks; people wearing rings on all fingers with flashing multicolored lights; bare midriff torsos, silver shirts and thigh-high boots; and the constant, vibrating, intoxicating beat: all of these bits and pieces came together for the Crystal Method’s visit to the Beta nightclub last Thursday night in a brilliant, bumping and throbbing set. And the boys behind the groove didn’t disappoint. Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland easily maintained their well-deserved status of pioneers in the big beat genre with a long, late-night set that had entranced dancers bumping, twisting, tripping and grooving seemingly uncontrollably.
Stepping into the big beat dance scene for a night comes with a few risks if you’ve been sidelined a while, especially with things like parenting and careers and the like. For one, there’s likely no better place for your body to remind you that it can only grind so much after years in front of a computer screen in a comfy office chair before it threatens to give out.
And then coming to that realization as you’re surrounded by young, beautiful, glowing bodies bumping around and into you, (and I mean glowing literally — both with youth and with chemical and electronic aides) adds another level of awareness — one that’s increasingly uncomfortable. Fortunately, it was easy to get swallowed up into the familiar groove Thursday night, for a while. It was just as exciting to watch the capacity crowd at Beta in their groove.
Jordan and Kirkland took over the DJ booth at just before midnight, immediately spinning their signature hypnosis as the swarm of dancers jumped and screamed, quickly reaching a crescendo in the first few minutes. After that, there was no letting down.
The two DJs, who incidentally look more like wicked, nerdy, basement codemonkeys than big beat superstars, calmly manipulated the impressive dashboard and continued to wash the undulating crowd with wave after wave of big beat electronica. Their seamless transition from song to song made it hard to keep up with the musical trail. Often the band would be into the third, fifth or eighth consecutive song before I’d realize it, and I would have a hard time figuring out how I ended up there. And then I would fall right back into a trance, beginning the sound-cycle all over again.
Another major player in Thursday’s show was the sound and light system at Beta, which clearly stands up to its reputation. The dance-floor is in the middle of four huge, almost cartoonish speaker stacks that spewed out sound loud enough to seemingly vibrate the clothes off your body. In combination with the lights, the Beta really did The Crystal Method right, and the never-ending dancing, popping, beating, breaking and tripping were a clear testament to its overall quality.
Even those sitting in the boxed in couch areas couldn’t mentally slow down, and there were plenty of people enjoying hand-born light shows being performed in close up on their faces, a scene that often approached the seductive look of a lap-dance.
While the Crystal Method deserve their place among the originators of the big beat electronic scene, and still stand as the leading American representative group in the genre, they’ve also consistently been able to separate themselves musically from the rest of the scene thanks to the way they show off their roots, based deeply in American rock, pop, soul and hip-hop. Thursday night’s set was no exception. Once Jordan and Kirkland started spinning, the show never turned back, the sound never receded, and the crowd never stopped rocking.
Billy Thieme is a Denver freelance writer and regular Reverb contributor.
Jason Claypool is a Denver freelance photographer and regular Reverb contributor.