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Concert review: Sleigh Bells at The Depot

by on April 13, 2012

While watching the Sleigh Bells show at The Depot Thursday night–a bombastic extravaganza of flashing lights, smoke, Marshall stacks, screeching guitars and sung/shouted vocals–a few questions kept popping into my head:

“What sounds are actually being played, and which are pre-recorded?”

“If every song is epic, are any of the songs REALLY epic?”

“Is this rock ‘n’ roll, metal, hip-hop, or dance music?”

“Is my high regard for ‘authenticity’ and roots-music misplaced?”

And, ultimately, “Why am I enjoying this so much?”

There’s a lot to be said for attitude getting a band over, and Sleigh Bells’ Alexis Krauss and Derek Miller have attitude in spades. Even though the duo’s songs are delivered with deafening volume and little variation in their pace or style, the enthusiasm of Krauss as a frontwoman is infectious; she’s like one of the Anarchy Cheerleaders from Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video grown up into a lead singer. She bangs her head, waves her hands, encourages the audience to shout along, and harmonizes along with her own pre-programmed vocals while Miller and an additional, unnamed guitarist (Jason Boyer) thrash around on either side of her.

The crowd Thursday ate it up, as Sleigh Bells ripped through songs from their new-ish Reign of Terror album and their 2010 debut, Treats. They played 15  songs over the course of maybe an hour, encore included, and from the opening “Demons” to the one-two encore punch of “Never Say Die” and “A/B Machines,” the energy in the room never flagged.

Credit for that goes to Krauss, whose non-stop rocking and obvious excitement at the sound of her own band’s music kept her bouncing and fist-pumping throughout, and helped the crowd stay pumped even for the less familiar songs from the album. Songs from Treats definitely got the biggest reactions from the audience, and “Tell ‘Em,” “Treats,” “Infinity Guitars” and “Rill, Rill” was an awesome quartet of songs leading into the encore, both insistent in their poppy hooks and noisy as hell.

Among the new songs, “Leader of the Pack,” “True Shred Guitars” and “Born to Lose” offered the most memorable performances.

Of course, with a show moving as fast as a Sleigh Bells gig does, and with the fuzzed-out sound they specialize in dominating every song, it’s hard to say any tune is more memorable than another.  But you can’t say a Sleigh Bells show isn’t memorable, or that it isn’t a great time.

Even if I’m still struggling to figure out why.

From → Concert reviews

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