Sleigh Bells at the Triple Rock

Sleigh Bells, Pictureplane and Sundelles
October 25, 2010
Triple Rock Social Club, Minneapolis

Noise-pop duo Alexis Krauss and Derek Miller of Sleigh Bells have been the buzz of conversations ever since their demo EP was released in 2009. And if the sold-out show at Triple Rock was any indication, Sleigh Bells may be riding the waves of their success for some time.

The band's summer-released debut album Treats was lauded by the majority of critics as fairly brilliant--Krauss's sugar-soprano and breathy vocalizations temper Miller's manic guitar sounds and beat production beautifully, as though she is in the eye of a tornado of sound. Playing live, none of that energy is lost, as Krauss is seemingly a master at managing chaos. With nothing but white strobe lights flashing across the stage every few seconds, Miller and Krauss seemed bent on sensationalism, which they delivered perfectly. Besides that, to see Sleigh Bells live at this point in their career--at a venue as small as Triple Rock, with tickets priced at a low $15--may be that rare opportunity to catch a glimpse of some rising indie stars.

The band offered the infectious and aggressive tracks from Treats, and the crowd was more than friendly. The undeniably catchy "Rill Rill" elicited so much pleased roaring from audience members that it seemed the entire host of people in the club had collectively been jamming out to it since the song was released--which, honestly, they probably had. Alternating between fist-pumping enthusiasm and wide-eyed euphoria, the momentum of the audience started off strong and quickly rocketed as Miller blasted through his guitar and Krauss played to the nearly-moshing crowd like a pro.

Sleigh Bells at the Triple Rock
Sleigh Bells at the Triple Rock

"I'm sorry if I kicked your head," Krauss apologized to audience members after throwing herself into the crowd for a brief jaunt among the hands of strangers during the finale. It's always a daring and props-worthy move when a singer crowd-surfs, and if the audience didn't love Krauss before, they certainly did after.

That said, the show last night was surprisingly free of the ear-splitting volume that Sleigh Bells is known for. While by no means a quiet concert, the Marshall stacks that lined the stage seemed little more than props as conversations were being carried on in the audience--many containing audible remarks like "They were so much louder at First Ave!", referring to the April show they played with Yeasayer. For a band whose goal seems to be to redefine "loud," things certainly could have been turned up last night. Then, too, the set lasted the length of their Treats album--a brisk 35 minutes. Enough time to make an impression, probably, and have a riotous good time, but still quite short by concert standards.

The rest of the lineup was somewhat bewildering. The Sundelles were a psychedelic surfer rock throwback that didn't sound like anything new (and actually were reminiscent of Surfer Blood, who were in town not too long ago), and while they played well enough, there was nothing supremely interesting about them. Electronic soloist Pictureplane (Travis Egedy) gave listeners a solid set with great dance beats, but a live stage act wasn't the best scene for him, and his between-song banter was mundane at best.

Personal bias: Already having seen Sleigh Bells once before, I had relatively high expectations for the show.
The crowd: Maddeningly obsessed with Krauss.
Overheard in the crowd: "Put your earplugs in, this is gonna be loud!"... followed by, "Dude, I shouldn't be able to hear myself talking to you. This is way too quiet."
Reporter's notebook: Contains scribbles of partial phrases by Krauss and last night's sweat.
Set list: The entire album, closing with "Crown on the Ground."
For more photos: See our slideshow by Erik Hess.

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