Sleigh Bells | 10.28.2010

The setting immediately changed to an engrossing dance party, complete with PBR-wielding, middle-class hipster fists pumping in time to hits off of Sleigh Bells’ most recent album, Treats

 

Photos: Bryan J. Sutter

The Firebird, St. Louis

 It was a chilly St. Louis night. I’ve only been to the Firebird a handful of times, as I have slight ochlophobic tendencies (aka, fear of getting stuck in large crowds) that do not fare well at the venue. However, I made an exception to witness what would end up being a mixed bag of a show–equal parts impressive and lackluster–by Sleigh Bells.

In their defense, the lackluster side was mainly out of their control, a result of technical malfunctions both with sound and lighting. Alas, such is the unforeseen pitfall of keeping a majority of your band in a box versus on stage with you. Minus this mid-show hiccup (which regrettably resulted in an anticlimactic downturn in both crowd and stage presence), the show was entertaining.

The audience mostly kept to themselves in the opening hours, but once Sleigh Bells took the stage, the setting immediately changed to an engrossing dance party, complete with PBR-wielding, middle-class hipster fists pumping in time to hits off of Sleigh Bells’ most recent album, Treats.

During the opening numbers, the show’s lighting was quite the spectacle–the kind that makes one wonder if it was designed with the expectation of certain altered states in the audience. The incessant strobing made it difficult to make out much of anything on stage but gave an impressive neo-impressionistic texture. It was a great visual representation to the overall character of the band.

If you haven’t heard Sleigh Bells, think M.I.A. on acid. Where M.I.A. revels in what could be termed “jovial chaos,” Sleigh Bells falls more into more of an industrial, slightly angst-ridden place on the noise-pop spectrum. This is not to say that I would token Sleigh Bells as “angsty,” as their sound is fueled much more positively than their industrial musical counterparts. They have defined a very innovative evolutionary hybrid of styles, encompassed in a very exciting and upbeat presentation.

From what I could see (the Firebird stage sadly does not cater very well to those of us under 5’4′), the noise pop duo started with a bang, kicking off the set with a rousing performance of “Tell ‘Em.”  The set was super short, possibly due to the previously mentioned malfunctions. A highlight of the evening was the closing performance of “Crown on the Grown,” during which an audience member adorned with a plastic crown was invited up on stage to lead the crowd in chant of chorus, “Set that crown on the ground.”

Unfortunately, we were sent home quickly thereafter with a very abrupt goodbye from the band and a promise to give us a better show next time.Given all the annoyance that technical problems can bring, Sleigh Bells handled the setbacks very well. Hopefully next time around they will live up to their promise. | Sheila Shahpari

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