“It’s so loud, I can’t hear myself think!” boomed Alexis Krauss, lead singer of Sleigh Bells, during their sold out show at the U Street Music Hall on 9/7/16.
Sleigh Bells are back in full force. Their upcoming fourth album, Jessica Rabbit, releases in November. Yet, they only played three new songs, including “Hyper Dark”, which Alexis asked the crowd if they could practice playing for the first time live. Sure! “Hyper Dark” is a departure from the usual frenetic, fuzzy, distorted anthems they typically play. It leisurely builds to a chorus, “So, you like trouble, I think we have a problem”, where Alexis’ voice slowly and confidently burns over synth-laden beats. Played live, it’s hard not to love (and to stay still to). Thanks for practicing on us.
If you anticipated the classic noise rock of Sleigh Bells going in, they happily obliged with six songs (out of the 15 they played) from their first album, Treats. Invoking the decisive and manic energy that they broke out with, the audience was enveloped with repeated blasts of vibrating waves of sound (your face and body tingled) from “Riot Rhythm”, “Tell ’em”, and “Infinity Guitars”.
Although occasionally the sound can be a little off at the U Street Music Hall, there was scant time to notice during the set, especially during “Kids”, as Alexis and the front half of the crowd were far too busy dancing.
The other member of Sleigh Bells is Derek Miller, who plays guitar. One of the new songs they played was “It’s Just Us Now”. The sound harkens back to the album Treats, but mixes in just enough stylistic variation that it is just as much pop as rock. The chorus is dark, “And when you die I wanna die, I wanna die with you, and lay us down for good”. Derek directed the music video and it shows Alexis in a swimming pool crying. None of that translated on the stage at Uhall however, and as the second song of the set it only served to get the crowd loose and ready for more.
It’s been three years since their last album, Bitter Rivals. I saw them live in DC in 2010 and 2012, so it’s been even longer since I gave them a complete listen. It could be another three years before they come back…even Alexis teased that ‘we’ll have to wait another three f*@ing years to get back to DC.”
They ended the main set with the urgent, fuzzy “Crown on the Ground”. Alexis did a brief crowd surf at one point (I believe it was during this song). She had to console and ply water on a women near the front of the stage, who had partied just a tad too much for her own good.
That is a fitting theme for the night. They encouraged the crowd to “give every once you have in your sweaty bodies!” And most people did.
After a quite brief exit (is the break before an encore necessary anymore?), they came back for two more songs, the new “Rule Number One” and “A/B Machines”.
I hope three more years don’t go by before they comeback, kids, but if it turns out that way, at least you’ll have Jessica Rabbit to listen to on repeat. Pick up a copy when it comes out, and get any of their other albums you’re missing. Stat.
It’s Just Us Now
Sing Like a Wire
Born to Lose
Crown on the Ground
Rule Number One