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- Posted on Sep 21st 2010 10:00AM by Alex Suskind
Roger Kisby, Getty Images
Since popping up on music blogs in 2009, reviews and profiles of the band include a number of labels, some mixture of everything from noise-pop to lo-fi to hip-hop to heavy metal. But fans and critics all seem to agree on at least one description: Sleigh Bells are absolutely, positively loud, which may be an understatement when it comes to their live shows.
On Monday at the Webster Hall Studio in New York City, the duo came onstage to a small but raucous crowd who were ready to get blown away by guitarist Derek Miller's four extra large Marshall amps. From the start, it was clear that earplugs would have been a good idea.
Typical rock concerts often follow a formula: you start the show with a couple of upbeat hits, you play a new track or two, you slow things with a few down-tempo songs, then you give it all you've got in the finale. But a Sleigh Bells show is anything but your standard concert experience. With only 11 tracks on their critically acclaimed debut album, 'Treats,' the duo has little more than a half hour's worth of material to work with. Therefore, from the moment Miller and singer Alexis Krauss step onstage, they go into high gear and don't let up until the crowd is fried and frazzled.
After playing to larger audiences at festivals this summer, the Webster Hall show allowed the group to get a little more intimate with the few hundred fans lucky enough to snag tickets to the show, which was part of MTV's 'Live in NYC' series. Playing tracks like 'Tell 'Em,' 'Infinity Guitars,' 'A/B Machines' and crowd favorite 'Crown on the Ground,' Miller tore through each song with a guitar that sounded like it had been constructed using rusted sheet metal, while Krauss wailed, rapped and belted out her lyrics as she jumped and flung herself all over the stage.
The show soon became a game of listen and repeat, with the crowd singing along and imitating her dance moves and rhythms. The small venue didn't deter the singer from crowd surfing either, as she came dangerously close to scraping the spotlights hanging from the low ceiling. By the end, the 30-minute performance felt more like a three-hour marathon as the crowd pushed towards the exits for some much needed air.
Attending a Sleigh Bells show only adds to the confusion of classifying this band. But perhaps the duo themselves can explain their sound the best, which they do on the N.E.E.T. Recordings website: "Future intercontinental bionic riff missiles meets good old fashioned feel good goooooo." That description sounds just about right.