Oh the polarizing Sleigh Bells. The band that people love or the band that people think is fake.
Sleigh Bells for me is a guilty pleasure. This band on record is everything you could ever ask for: super heavy hits, thick riffs, and sugary-sweet vocals. It’s like listening to cracked out versions of Toni Basil’s “Mickey” over and over. Sleigh Bells is total ear candy, and it’s absolutely addicting.
Their live show however is a different story and this is where the controversy comes in, many people (including a few writers for this site) feel that their overly prerecorded live performance is an “embarrassment to live music” or just outright “poserish”. I can’t say I disagree, it always been a bit confusing to me as to why Sleigh Bells has never used a full band. I have seen several electronic acts with extremely processed music pull things off very well with live instrumentation .
With that being considered The Bearded Gentlemen entered the Sleigh Bells show with much speculation and anticipation, we were late and missed the first opening band Elite Gymnastics, which I am bummed about, because after some research I really dig their sound. The second band, which we unfortunately caught the majority of was Javelin. I was really hoping for a live band experience from the openers to counter what Sleigh Bells was about to bring and instead I got two dudes smacking samplers and drum pads around. Remember back in junior high when your friend got their first instrument and they tried to show you how awesome they were, that’s what Javelin was. Pretty sure at one point they butchered some Beastie Boys lyrics and proclaimed themselves a venereal disease. Bad news. We did our best to avoid their performance by searching around trying to find a good viewing spot for Sleigh Bells.
When we finally found a good view we were literally three feet way from the main speakers which I knew was going to hurt because of Sleigh Bells reputation for being extremely loud. After some sweet old school hip-hop intermission music the lights dimmed and out strolled guitarist Derek Miller and newly added touring guitarist Jason Boyer (it’s not Ryan Primack, I was wrong). Finally, Alexis Krauss came prancing out and after the first few seconds of the first song I was already deaf in my right ear and I knew that we were about to experience a very fabricated show. There is little that is actually performed during these shows. While there is live guitar, they are essentially just following the guitar parts played on the backing track and the vocals are extremely processed although I do believe that Alexis Krauss is singing her guts out.
Sleigh Bells tore though the majority of their apocalyptic cheerleader chants from both Treats and Reign of Terror, but the highlight of the show was when they slowed it down for the chill jams such as “Rill, Rill”.
This show would have been an absolute contrived bore if it weren’t for the stage presence and performance of Krauss, she is definitely the main attraction of their performance and easily the best front woman / person I have seen in a very long time. She is absolutely legit, and went all out for the majority of the ninety minutes.
So while the show may have been essentially a Rihanna type performance aimed at the hipster crowd, I thoroughly enjoyed myself for the sole fact that it was crazy loud and energetic. Plus Krauss absolutely killed it from start to finish.
…I just hope that one day they will eventually upgrade their shows to a full band.
Side Note: If you haven’t already figured it out. All of these bad ass and good sounding live clips are from Isaac’s YouTube channel, do yourself a favor and check it: http://www.youtube.com/user/isaacfalling/featured