Sleigh Bells still in the minor leagues

Sleigh Bells gets loud--Sam Levison / BlogDailyHerald

Sleigh Bells probably didn’t have a soundcheck last night. Their set began with some death metal tune played at a decently loud volume, followed by some sleigh bells (surprising) and then the first eardrum-busting noises (I say noises instead of notes because the soundboard guy was panicking to get everything EQ’d at this point) of their song “Tell ‘Em” as the two performers (Alexis Krauss and Derek Miller) took the stage. About 30 seconds into the opening song, the sound engineer finally got everything under control and I could start enjoying the show. Full review after the jump.

Sleigh Bells’ debut album, “Treats,” was one of the musical highlights of my summer. Hip hop beats Cudi would kill for, distorted guitars and a “get up and dance” energy comparable only to Earth Wind and Fire at a Bar Mitzvah. Album highlights “Kids,” “A/B Machines,” and “Crown on the Ground” generate a genuinely unique musical vibe resides out of any traditional pop music nomenclature. Like Crystal Castles, Sleigh Bells integrates hardcore elements into a completely unrelated genre with highly pleasing results. After being so happy with the LP, I was excited to finally experience the live show that supposedly convinced M.I.A. to sign the band to her record label.

What Sleigh Bells delivered was a slightly underwhelming two person plus sequenced drums/synths experience. Competing for prominence against bands like Crystal Castles, Ratatat and the Ting Tings, Sleigh Bells came off pretty weak. Alexis had fantastic energy, smiling, shrieking and working the crowd–but concerts start and end with the music, and Miller’s fantastic studio just didn’t translate too well to a live setting. As the full album track (drums, vocal loops and synths/guitars) played behind Miller’s relatively straightforward guitar work and Alexis’s high pitched cries, I couldn’t help but conclude that there was little difference between the Sleigh Bells live show and blasting the album through a few Marshall amps with a strobe-centric light show.

At only 35 minutes, Sleigh Bells’ live set ran pretty short, even by electronica-duo standards. But the tickets were ten dollars (part of WBRU’s Cheap Date concert series), so I have no right to complain. For an opener, I could probably pick no better band than Sleigh Bells–they have fantastic energy and feel-good dance tunes that serve perfectly to lead into a true headlining set (listen to me BCA). However, after last night, I’m not convinced that they would be able to hold their own at a full-sized venue. I hope as their repertoire expands (and they pick up a live drummer and programmer) Sleigh Bells will start making some major headway on the live music circuit.

Speaking of the live music circuit, here are a few concerts to consider in the upcoming months:

1. Ke$ha: she’ll only be relevant for another year, might as well say you’ve been to her concert. Plus, don’t you wanna experience her griminess and lack of talent up close and personal? Tuesday, October 26 at Lupo’s–$35

2. Wiz Khalifa: saw him at Jelly Pool party two summers ago, dude knows how to hold a microphone with a white towel on his shoulder while alternating every other word with his hype man. Wednesday, September 22 at Lupo’s–$16

3. La Roux: at half the price of a La Roux ticket at New York’s Terminal 5, this one’s a steal. Friday, November 12 at Lupo’s–$15

4. Matt & Kim: is it irony? I don’t know, but “I Will Take Us Home” is awesome and it doesn’t bug me that they were featured in Gossip Girl last season. Sunday, November 7th at The Met–$15

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