The Crystal Method winds down its eventful 2017 with a show at Tower Theatre

click to enlarge The Crystal Method plays Nov. 24 at Tower Theatre. (Photo Fab Fernandez / provided)
Photo Fab Fernandez / provided
The Crystal Method plays Nov. 24 at Tower Theatre.

Oklahoma City is home to one of the last scheduled stops in what has been a busy year for The Crystal Method.

The experimental big beat and electronic dance duo formed as a joint project between Las Vegas, Nevada-based deejays Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland in 1993. Jordan, however, announced his retirement from music earlier this year. With the blessing of the group’s co-founder, Kirkland continues touring and recording under The Crystal Method name.

Jordan’s retirement came in the same year The Crystal Method celebrates the 20th anniversary of its biggest album, its 1997 debut Vegas.

Local electronic dance music and rave promoter Subsonix brings The Crystal Method to Oklahoma City in one of its last scheduled U.S. tour dates of the year. The show begins 8 p.m. Nov. 24 at Tower Theatre, 425 NW 23rd St. Admission is $15-$25.

The show will also be The Crystal Method’s first since returning from a string of private and public show dates on the other side of the world in China and Russia.

Kirkland told Oklahoma Gazette he has family in Oklahoma City and is no stranger to the area.

“As a kid, I would spend the summers in OKC, visiting my grandparents,” he wrote in an email sent from a hotel in Beijing. “So I can’t wait to come back and play.”

Staying Vegas

The Crystal Method’s catalogue contains plenty of worthwhile releases, including its 2002 remix album Community Service, which featured remixes of Garbage, Rage Against the Machine, P.O.D. and others mixed together as one continuous track, and its recent self-titled record released in 2014. The Crystal Method was delayed for more than a year as Kirkland recovered from the surgical removal of a cyst in his brain.

Still, 10-track Vegas is the project with which the group is most associated.

The mid- to late-1990s were a time when electronic music felt like it was on the edge of a wider commercial breakthrough. Madonna’s career took a new path on her 1998 electronica album Ray of Light. Across the Atlantic Ocean, The Chemical Brothers topped charts while pioneering big beat music in England with hits like “Block Rockin’ Beats” and “Setting Sun.” The Prodigy gave the genre a punk-rock flair on 1997’s wildly successful album The Fat of the Land.

For a time, The Crystal Method was the big beat duo of note in the United States. Vegas was a unique album in that it more strongly incorporated Jordan and Kirkland’s hip-hop and jazz sensibilities into a mix that was more distinctly American and has aged well through the years. Vegas peaked only as high as 93 on the U.S. charts after its initial release, but years of sustained relevance earned the album a platinum plaque in 2007.

“At the time we were making Vegas, we loved it, but we had no idea it was going to have the impact that it has had,” Kirkland said.

The pair never surpassed the high bar of critical and commercial success it set on its debut, in part due to American musical tastes never taking to big beat and electronica as strongly as the music industry wanted. But The Crystal Method has kept far from irrelevance since then. Its music has often been used in television, movies and video game soundtracks, including Tropic Thunder, Tron: Legacy, Real Steel, Fast & Furious 6 and Lucy.

Kirkland has no problem saying The Crystal Method hit the jackpot on Vegas. All the stars were aligned on that release, and much of the rest of the band’s career is indebted to it.

Vegas was like catching lightning in a bottle,” he said. “It’s taken us around the world and has allowed us to do what we love for the last 20 years. Nothing can ever match its success, both commercially and culturally, and I’m cool with that.”

Recent work

Kirkland is only months removed from a two-date tour opening for Tool. The DJ has formed a close bond with the powerhouse alternative metal and art-rock band in the last couple of years — particularly with bassist Justin Chancellor. Kirkland teamed up with Chancellor this year to form the side project Bandwidth. They released a remix to Foals’ “What Went Down” in April 2016.

Fans should be able to hear more collaborations between Kirkland and Chancellor on The Crystal Method’s sixth studio album, likely being released sometime in 2018.

While opening for Tool in front of crowds of over 10,000 people, Kirkland used a unique blend of analog synthesizers and sequencers to give new life to existing Crystal Method material. He said he is still on a high from the experience.

“It was freaking awesome,” he said. “It was unlike anything I have ever done before.”

Kirkland recently scored the soundtrack for the documentary Hired Gun, a film about the supremely talented but mostly anonymous session and touring musicians called upon by the biggest bands in the world, including Metallica, KISS and Billy Joel.

The original score is a collaboration between The Crystal Method and Swedish composer Tobias Enhus, who has worked as a composer or music designer on films like Black Hawk Down and Blade: Trinity.

Hired Gun has been such an amazing opportunity for me to reconnect with the kid in me,” Kirkland said. “Scoring scenes where my childhood heroes talk about events that shaped so many people’s lives was a tremendous honor for me.”

Print headline: Vegas nights; The Crystal Method winds down its eventful 2017 with a show at Tower Theatre.

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