There's anticipatory zeal in the air as Billboard fills up, as the live reputation of Sleigh Bells is one of unbridled lunacy – and everybody loves a spectacle.
DZ Deathrays are a perfect way to start the night, as the running theme must surely be ‘from little bands, big noise grows.’ It grows, and swells, and bursts your eardrums. The two are off and head banging in no time, with an appreciative albeit small crowd huddled to see them. Simon Ridley’s hair whipping/drum playing abilities are truly wondrous as he slams those skins to smithereens. Lead singer/guitarist Shane Parsons does an awful lot for one guy; words to sing, a guitar to strum and plenty of pedals to push. We can’t help but think a bass player in the band might take some pressure off him, but then we’re swiftly reminded that this man is a machine, and the thought is immediately retracted.
Twelve huge Marshall amps are stacked and ready to go as we wait for Alexis Krauss and Derek Edward Miller to dominate this stage. When Sleigh Bells arrive we are promptly warned by Krauss that this is going to get sweaty, as the assault of crashing beats and flashing lights begin. ‘Crown on the Ground’ slams into us with such force that we realise what we are in for tonight.
Krauss’ voice is fairy-floss sweet when she talks to the crowd and when hitting the melodic high notes. She is every inch a punk rock goddess with tattoos, leather jacket, cut off shorts and a cut out shirt. Krauss’ energy knows no bounds; she’s jumping around, punching the air to the relentless pounding beats and strutting towards the audience with predatory desire.
The set is heavy on songs from their debut album Treats, however tracks like ‘Demon’ and ‘Born to Lose’ from their latest album, Reign of Terror, are equally well received by the reckless crowd. We’re only just able to grab a breath and enjoy the brilliance of Krauss's voice when she begins ‘Born to Lose’ with an a cappella version of the chorus line "where did you go?"
While Miller and touring guitarist Jason Boyer are shedding their guitars relentlessly, the focus rarely leaves Krauss and her sultry and powerful performance. Krauss often wanders over to Miller during the set and looks at him in excitable disbelief. Sleigh Bells are clearly nothing short of thrilled to be here.
'Rill Ril'l is the final song before the encore, in which Kraus crowd surfs as she sung the final chorus. Unfortunately the crowd tonight, while enthusiastic, is not quite large enough to carry her all the to the back of the venue. The encore sees one particularly enthusiastic fan get up on stage, lift Krauss up, spin her around, puther down, give her a kiss on the hand and leap into the crowd. Krauss doesn’t stop singing the whole time and giggles when her fanboy is gone.
On the way out, Sleigh Bells let us know they’re working on a new record that will be coming out soon. If this means we don’t have to wait another two years again before they come back, this is the best note they could have ended their set on.