Sleigh Bells at First Avenue 11/02/12

Categories: Concert Review
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Photo by Erik Hess
Sleigh Bells
With Araabmuzik
First Avenue, Minneapolis
Friday, November 2, 2012


On Friday night, to a teeming First Avenue mainroom, Sleigh Bells raised a proverbial toast: to Minneapolis, to the pride of a second album and -- most importantly -- to anyone anywhere who's irritatingly endured a subpar set clinging to the pivotal desire for one thing: more volume. There's no hyperbole in saying that they blew their audience's ears out. They did. And it's important to note that the awesomeness of the sheer decibels pumped through First Avenue's new system could very well have been a positive game-changer for the doubting Thomases of the crowd. But this was supplementary to what truly made their performance exceptional.

See Also:
Sleighbells: Sleigh Bells at First Avenue, 11/2/12
Sleigh Bells' Alexis Krauss on the fans, pressure, and adding another guitar


Antics are everything. Just one day earlier, Crystal Castles' Alice Glass proved this with predictable booze-swilling depravity. For Sleigh Bells, the impression is primarily aesthetic and the moment Alexis Krauss furiously burst onstage clad in a Parental Advisory crop top and leggy, high-waisted shorts, the audience was bathing in her sweaty, Brooklyn palm. Add the psychotic, machine-gun riffs of Derek Miller and Jason Boyer back-dropped by their trademark Great Wall of Marshall and, well, you can imagine the intensity of what began as a brief "intro."

Swelling into a furious rendition of the not-so-subtly dark "Demons," Krauss heightened the immense appeal of her dichotomous presence. For one: the studio sound of her vocals doesn't do her justice. In a live setting that was evident. The occasional, inevitable flatness doesn't need to be scrutinized because A. I don't know what brand of supernatural earplug could allow anyone amidst those speakers to hear themselves, and B. She was scream-singing for over an hour. Common knowledge suggests her voice should have frogged into a tired Macy Gray. Bottom line: she sounded way more vocally talented than the albums show and it was--coming from one of the aforementioned "doubting Thomases" -- impressive.

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Photos by Erik Hess

The set had definite highs without ever really veering off into anything less than a code red on the stimulation level. "Crown on the Ground" marked the highest of highs, the siren-like guitars feeding off of Krauss's exponentially building energy. Their single from Reign of Terror, "Born to Lose," began notably slowed and silenced, a clever tease that made the shattering climax all the more enjoyable. "Comeback Kid" proved the point where Krauss, so immensely surfing the positive waves of her spirited audience, began literally surfing (the crowd), a trend that would continue. Crowd-surfing is amusing because no matter how many artists do it (a lot) it seems to always be one of the X-factors in a show that makes it "totally awesome." It was totally awesome in its improvised sense but it was also awesome because it was coming from a demure indie babe.

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