There is a visceral thrill in seeing Sleigh Bells live.
It's like being grabbed by the scruff of the neck and yanked into the centre of some sort of sonic explosion – you feel disorientated, slightly bruised but sure you've experienced something interesting, if not quite brilliant.
Although you wouldn't think it from the gargantuan sound throbbing from the stack of Marshall amps, Sleigh Bells are a duo. Made up of former schoolteacher Alexis Krauss on vocals and Derek Miller, the former guitarist from hardcore band Poison the Well, their debut album, Treats, set the blogosphere alight in late 2009.
Tonight, stripped of slick production and with only the two of them on the stage, their sound feels somewhat impressionistic, a patchy and less nuanced rendering of the tautly produced album.
They open with "Tell 'Em" and the repetitive distorted beats and shredding sound of Miller's guitar riffs drown out Krauss's voice and with it the melodic focal point of the song. Nonetheless, the sound is thrilling, loud and brutish and in no small part catchy.
It's not all ear-splitting discordant sounds, though; there is pathos behind the snarling braggadocio. Shorn of Miller's volume-pushing guitar riffs, Krauss's voice rings out in all its sugar-sweet glory on the song "Rill Rill". Swaying in the glow of the stage lights she fills the stage effortlessly, to the extent that you barely notice that Miller has shuffled off to the wings, his services not required for the song.
There is something primeval, something animalistic about Sleigh Bells in the flesh. They feel real and fresh, but after half an hour, and the rather sweet admission that they "have no more songs to play", my ears were quite relieved when Krauss dived into the crowd and ended the set.Reuse content