At the very pinnacle of restless anticipation, strobe lights burst into the anxious eyes of the crowd. A giant swell of violent energy exploded from both the stage and the audience at the same time. Everyone began shoving everyone else as “Tell ‘Em,” the opening song off of Sleigh Bells’ freshman LP Treats, tore through the venue.
Derek E. Miller (guitar) and Alexis Krauss are something of an odd couple, musically, but the contrast works for them. Sleigh Bells’ thrashing hip hop-inspired beats shook the whole room while Miller played gutter-scraping guitar hooks (Miller was once in hardcore group Poison the Well), and Krauss sang her sweet-gone-poisonous vocals.
Sleigh Bells’ sound is a gritty alloy of contemporary hip-hop, metal, and pop. Chaos was the most prominent feature of the concert, but Krauss’ surprisingly pretty voice grounded the explosive noise, and the only live instrument was Miller’s guitar, which allowed the band to keep control over their decidedly aggressive sound. The energy was consistently high with both the band and the audience, which turned the concert into more of an experience than anything else, and both members of the band were giving more of a show than I could have ever expected.
Almost as amazing as the actual performance was the turn-out. The Magic Stick was completely packed, but Treats has barely been out for two months. Signing on to N.E.E.T. (MIA’s label) certainly didn’t hurt the Brooklyn-based duo’s popularity, but it speaks even more to the power of internet hype. It seemed like every blog had something good to say about Sleigh Bells before Treats was even completed, but the band delivered on all fronts, and for that, they were seriously rewarded with a packed house.