Walking into the Sleigh Bells show Saturday at the Royale was an experience difficult to classify. Milling about the ornately decorated club, complete with faux crystal chandeliers suspended from the ceiling was a crowd that looked more ready to party to the synthesized beats of a DJ than to thrash around at Sleigh Bells’ pop-laced melee of dissonant guitar and drums.
However, from the moment frontwoman Alexis Krauss quite literally bolted on stage, clad in a leopard print boxing robe, the crowed was hooked and connected. Joining bandmate and lead guitarist Derek Miller on stage, the duo was backed by touring guitarist Ryan Primack and for the first time on a live tour, rounded out their sound with drums, at the hands of Chris Maggio.
The group played a smattering of songs spanning all three of their albums, giving fairly equal attention to each one. While each of their last two records had their share of hits, nearly every song from their debut, Treats, was a crowd favorite. “Crown On The Ground,” “Kids,” and “Infinity Guitars” all got a much better crowd reaction than the brand new material from Bitter Rivals. The new album sees the group once again having a tough time innovating while staying within their unique sound.
While the addition of a live drummer was a welcome substitution to what would have otherwise been sampled drum tracks, the band’s live rendition of their work offered little departure musically from the recorded version. What they lacked in musical variety, they certainly made up for in energy, with both Krauss and Miller darting around the stage almost constantly. They were so wrapped up in the moment that they nearly collided on several occasions. Krauss also clearly knew how to own the stage, mixing photo-ready poses with reaches into the crowd and a bout of crowdsurfing.
Although the live rendition of the group’s music was straightforward and offered little live variation, the crowd couldn’t care less as long as it remained danceable. While this most often occurs with pop and house music, Sleigh Bells proved that they were able to create the same type of live vibe, despite the heavy and at times white-noise-esque nature of their music.
Perhaps the greatest letdown of the show was the length, capping out at just under an hour. Regardless of whether was the fault of the venue eager to re-open as a club later that night or poor scheduling on the band’s part, Sleigh Bells packed a punch before exiting the stage with “A/B Machines,” the final song of the three-song encore. The simple lyrics had everyone singing along, while Miller, Primack, and Maggio really hammered out the instrumentals, as if in attempt to leave the crowd wanting more. Which, let’s be honest, everyone in that room probably did.