The Crystal Method Bring Beats, And Matisyahu (Sort Of), To New York

NEW YORK — It could be said (and probably has been) that paying to see electronic music performed is like paying to see someone hit play on their iPod. That view, however, would miss out on the sensory assault that a crowd of heaving, sweaty bodies surged and swayed to on Saturday night at New York’s Webster Hall.

In advance of the release of their fourth full album, Divided by Night, electronica veterans The Crystal Method brought their laptops and keyboards and sample pads to town for a pulsing, perspiration-inducing set.

Before either Scott Kirkland or Ken Jordan hit the stage, the show began with twin video monitors playing their newest video, “Drown in the Now”, which features reggae-rapper Matisyahu. It was no surprise then, that he emerged from backstage halfway through the 90 minute set. What was odd, and in fact somewhat baffling, was that TCM played a twelve year old song, “High Roller” while Matisyahu lightly freestyled a vocal over the instrumental track. Why they would elect to not play the single from the album being released a mere three days from the show was surprising at best.

After finishing his vocal, Matis thanked the crowd and left the stage. He was later seen in the venue’s balcony area chatting with VIP concert goers.

The rest of the set was vintage TCM. When I interviewed the duo eight years and two albums ago, they were proud that their then-new Tweekend had enough low-end to shatter speakers (luckily this was corrected in mixing and mastering before release). I could not help but think of that and smile this day as my chest compressed against the push of the speakers.

For their part, the Big Apple crowd seemed to enjoy the older, more familiar parts of the show. Material from the as-yet-unreleased Divided by Night seemed to break the rhythm while hits like “Busy Child” and “Born Too Slow” got them moving.

Kirkland and Jordan finished their setlist, thanked the crowd and disembarked from the stage. The crowd was unsure of how — or even if — to get them to return for an encore. Soon, the overhead house lights made it clear no such encore was coming and the crowd divided themselves back into the night.