Sleigh Bells live review – by Mr. Spencer

At Louder Than War we love Sleigh Bells. Their mash up of hardcore, hip hop and distorted pop is right here, right now. Mr. Spencer saw them live in London and agrees.

SLEIGH BELLS
Heaven, London
Feb 14 2011

In this setting, with Heaven’s brick railway arches sweeping above a crowd pummelled by a truly epic sound system, the air buzzes with expectation. But before we catch our first glimpse of Sleigh Bells – until now mostly heard but not seen – the dismally named Teeth stir several dollops of Crystal Castles thump into a tech-pop brew that contains enough bleeping, looping originality to distinguish them from mere copyists and mark them as worthy of observation.

After a long wait filled by muscular hip-hop and, perhaps tellingly, a refreshing blast of ABBA’s ‘SOS’ (sounding great at ear-popping volume!) Brooklyn’s Sleigh Bells stalk onstage to a roar sufficiently heartfelt to suggest genuine loyalty rather than slavery to industry hype.

Then with a lunge of his arm songwriter/producer Derek Miller unleashes the first in a series of power chords that, combined with his brutal programmed beats, rattle this building’s walls. At the same time singer Alexis Krauss starts to shimmy, jump, writhe and roll around the stage, a blur of energy, her forceful yet seductive vocals adding a sheen of melody to the maelstrom; ‘Tell ‘Em’ spits its licks like a howitzer; ‘Infinity Guitars’ inspires an unlikely singalong as the crowd apes the song’s simple three-note hook before being overwhelmed by a surge of feedback, then ‘Run The Heart’ sprinkles fairy dust into the sonic swirl. The onslaught is raw, relentless, irresistable.

With their debut album, ‘Treats’, Sleigh Bells have created a euphoric, deliberately too-loud album that clobbers you over the head, shouts in your ears then scarpers, leaving you dazed and enslaved. Tonight the duo adopt a similar strategy, pounding us into submission then offering a suggestive hug with the slinky ‘Rill Rill’ – until a jubilant Alexis dives into a sea of hands, briefly vanishing before climbing back onstage only to promptly sod off with Miller after just 30 minutes. We’re left gasping for more. That’s the way to do it!

Mr Spencer

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10 comments on “Sleigh Bells live review – by Mr. Spencer”

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  1. Read my review at Manchester Scenewipe http://is.gd/cIXZSv for a true account of the Sleigh Bells ‘LIVE’ experience, & some back story on why they’re no better than a manufactured pop band. “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” :

    “…Alexis Krauss stomps on from stage left yelling: “C\’mon Manchester!” dressed in leggings and an oversized “99” numbered Football shirt, the name \’BELLS\’ between cut-off sleeve shoulders, rummaging a stud-knuckled fingerless glove into the seething mass of sycophants at the front of the stage. Derek plunges his Jackson\’s fretboard forward with every thrust of a digitally manipulated powerchord, while Alexis emits a series of punctuating screams, sounding like a Guinea-Pig punchbag. The whole thing reeks like a shore leave whorehouse…”

  2. Read my review at Manchester Scenewipe http://is.gd/cIXZSv for a true account of the Sleigh Bells \’LIVE\’ experience, & some back story on why they\’re no better than a manufactured pop band. “Ever get the feeling you\’ve been cheated?” :

    “…Alexis Krauss stomps on from stage left yelling: “C\’mon Manchester!” dressed in leggings and an oversized “99” numbered Football shirt, the name \’BELLS\’ between cut-off sleeve shoulders, rummaging a stud-knuckled fingerless glove into the seething mass of sycophants at the front of the stage. Derek plunges his Jackson\’s fretboard forward with every thrust of a digitally manipulated powerchord, while Alexis emits a series of punctuating screams, sounding like a Guinea-Pig punchbag. The whole thing reeks like a shore leave whorehouse…”

  3. Listen to Grandad moaning about the music of today! I saw Sleigh Bells live and I don’t care of they were using backing tapes or not, they sounded great and that’s all that matters. I know that might be difficult to comprehend for the oldies stroking their beards!

  4. Mitch, you little whippersnapper – if you’re happy with Derek dangling his little painted slut-puppet in your excited little face with one hand, while pilfering your teen-age wallet with the other, that’s okay. Some of us need to pay for simulations because we’re not smart or righteous enough to be able to get the real thing. If you had a good time at your little pop-concert: good for you. Hopefully you can see them again from the cheap seats of the MEN, on the back of their collaboration with Beyonce, where you won’t be able to see if they’re miming or not & it will actually be expected of them.

  5. Chester, read your review with interest, in particular “[Derek’s] amplifier-humping antics fail to coax a scintilla of feedback from the wall of Marshall stacks, until eventually a right-handed, 4-time air-punch betrays his \’playing\’ as the guitar carries on the riff without him”, which is a bit troubling, if true, although perhaps that’s the old rock purist in me! (Does it REALLY matter?)

    Otherwise though, I’m not worried about their perceived lack of authenticity, or their alleged use of backing tracks; frankly… so what!? Sleigh Bells clearly aren’t revolutionary, but they do make a great noise, offer tons more excitement than the bulk of today’s bland skinny-indie crop, and best of all their album is stupidly loud!

    And right now, in Feb 2011, if not a year or even six months ahead, that’ll do for me.

  6. Did you read my complete review? How did the “Rock Purist” in you feel about the fact that this Bitchin’ Vixen made her name in a manufactured girl group? It increasingly matters to me if my musical heroes are genuine about what they put across, in fact it always has. Sleigh Bells’ pantomine of prop Marshall Stacks & well-worn Rock N’ Roll iconography isn’t just alot like ‘Rock Week’ on the X Factor, its offensive to those of us that were denigrated & marginalised because of our devotion to what used to be ‘Alternative’ music. Not only that, it’s dishonest, and its swindling kids to whom the aforementioned experience is alien, but something they want to buy into. Nirvana were loud, My Bloody Valentine are super-fucking loud, but there’s a boundless depth about them that is beautiful to submerse oneself in. Underneath Derek & Alexis’s marriage of convenience – there’s just the desire for industry acceptance, cultural kudos & skyrocketing record sales. Its clearly a very shrewd move on Derek’s part. Alexis may simply be enjoying the ride – who knows, maybe she even believes she’s a ‘Rock Chick’ now, but we both know these are born not made. Soon they’ll be collaborating with the newly bleached-out Beyoncé: What better metaphor for the completion of Derek & Alexis’ respective transformations into what they once ideologically opposed. It matters Mr Spencer. Truth DOES matter.

  7. Chester,

    I like your passion – I can relate to it – but surely \’pantomime\’ is overdoing it? Sleigh Bells are obviously no Sex Pistols but they ARE a cool pop group with great tunes, and I\’d rather today\’s pop kids (who I suspect understand more than you give them credit for) listened to their beats and bedlam than the latest gutless, floppy-fringed indie fluff. Who knows, they might even incite the odd miffed parent to yell up the stairs: “Turn that racket down!”

    Perhaps you\’ve set the bar too high. Sleigh Bells\’ Derek Miller is no musical visionary, no purveyor of the elemental or extraordinary; no Kurt Cobain, Kevin Shields or Tim Smith. There will be no epiphany… but I wasn\’t expecting one! Try to accept Sleigh Bells for what they are and what they produce – a splendid racket – and enjoy the fact that, within a POP context, they offer an alternative to the anaemic.

    Personally I\’m looking forward to the Sleigh Bells/Beyoncé collaboration. Two thrilling pop acts belting it out together in a real-life \’bootleg\’ style mash-up: what\’s not to like?

    PS What exactly is a “Bitchin\’ Vixen”!?

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