School Of Seven Bells at the Triple Rock, 4/27/12

School Of Seven Bells
Triple Rock Social Club, Minneapolis
April 27, 2012

Benjamin Curtis and Alejandra Deheza made sure that School Of Seven bells didn't lose a step following the departure of their original synth player/vocalist (and Alejandra's twin sister) Claudia in late 2010. They kept touring while consistently evolving and refashioning their textured sound, the end results of which make up the finest album of their brief career, Ghostory, a record which they came to the Triple Rock in support of on Friday night.

And while their live lineup has now expanded to include a live drummer and backing vocalist/keyboardist who add to their layered arrangements, their ethereal songs still continue to soar due to the mellifluous vocals of Deheza and the inventive guitar work of Curtis, who both rightfully led the group through a captivating 75-minute set which drew pretty evenly from all three of the band's releases.

The quartet took to the dark stage with a moody intro which featured looped vocals over an slowly building synth line before giving way to Curtis and Deheza's emphatic guitar riffs over the driving rhythm of the drummer, who didn't take long to prove that he was going to have a positive effect on SVIIB's live sound. The band quickly transitioned into the hypnotic "Iamundernodisguise," which was augmented by the live drums, allowing Deheza's trance-like vocals to dramatically carry the song.

There was a vital energy that pulsed through all of the new songs the band played throughout the set, which became readily apparent on "The Night," a buoyant number that churned with a driving, electronic cadence. Throughout the performance, the band was only illuminated by two sets of interlaced circles which lit up with flashing lights that matched the changing moods of the music, adding a visual dimension to the group's atmospheric material.

Disconnect From Desire's "Windstorm" and "Bye Bye Bye" kept up the strong start, before the majestic "Love Play" elevated the set with its grand sonic textures and wistful lyrics. "White Elephant Coat" featured a long, striking intro, before the slowly simmering song plodded forward, never really catching a spark. Deheza addressed the crowd for the first time at this point, asking, "Did any of you hear us on the radio today?" And she seemed pleased when a good portion of the crowd cheered in response, knowing that their stellar session on the Current earlier that afternoon had found an audience. But other than an occasional thank you, the band didn't disrupt the elegant ambiance that their music was creating inside the club.

A gorgeous, resounding version of "Lafaye" really snapped the set back to life after the somewhat somnolent version of "White Elephant Coat," and the rest of the show only built on that momentum. "Scavenger" had a distinctly '80s vibe and rhythm to it, while "ILU" built slowly to a stately finish, carried by Deheza's golden vocals. "White Wind" featured an electronic urgency to it that was both refreshingly modern and decidedly retro, while "Low Times" was a slow burning, rhythmic track that eventually blossomed into a sprawling, intoxicating dance number.

A superb version of "My Cabal" closed out the main set triumphantly, before the band left the stage for the briefest of moments before the encore. SVIIB continued with the Alpinisms vibe throughout their final two songs as well, delivering a lively version of "Half Asleep," before closing with the gradual tension of "Sempiternal/Amaranth," which built to a beguiling conclusion that brought the night to a glorious end. With this current lineup and a stellar new batch of songs, School Of Seven Bells had everyone at the Triple Rock under their spell straight from the start.

Critic's Notebook:

Personal Bias: I hadn't seen SVIIB since Claudia left, and was blown away by how much the band has progressed in the last two years.

The Crowd: There were a ton of great shows happening in Minneapolis on Friday night, which kept this show from being a sell out.

Overheard In The Crowd: "Ooh, I love Alejandra's new haircut!"

Random Notebook Dump: After winning over the Fine Line during their opening set for the Joy Formidable back in March, Exitmusic once again delivered a riveting performance that really set the mood well for the headliners. I hope they come back to Minneapolis for a headlining gig when their debut full-length comes out in May.




The Night


Bye Bye Bye

Love Play

White Elephant Coat




White Wind

Low Times

My Cabal

Half Asleep (Encore)

Sempiternal/Amaranth (Encore)

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