Concert Review: Sleigh Bells at Woolys in Des Moines, IA. – April 23, 2014

Woolys in Des Moines, IA.
April 23, 2014
Published by JB on April 24, 2014.

There were no survivors.

Regardless of any love/hate relationship you may have with the Sleigh Bells sound, you certainly can’t call them unoriginal.   At nearly all times they engulf the venue into a thumping mix of razor sharp guitar lines that are punctuated non-stop with head bashing backbeats.  Mix that in with lead girl Alexis Krauss’ rapping, jumping, punching, pumping, leaping,…..and yeah, you get the idea.   There’s no cryptic secrets here.   It’s in your face.  Their visual stampede is jaw-dropping for those of us in Iowa who see stuff like this, oh only once per year (like when the Sleigh Bells come to town).   What the Sleigh Bells bypass in melody they make up for in sheer brute force.   It’s like that friend in your life that punches first and asks questions later.  You can’t figure out why they do it that way, but you still respect them for it because no one else can pull it off.2014-04-23_SleighB_D6h-1

Krauss is a stage dynamo – and perhaps unbeknownst to her, has a stalking presence similar to Garbage’s Shirley Manson.   They don’t dance – they pose.  They’re rock stars first and foremost.   They look like they want to pull your hair, punch you in the face, laugh a little bit, sing about it, and then bat their eyes at you to tell you they’re sorry – just long enough to win you back and repeat the entire process all over again.   And we’re suckers enough to fall for it because it’s compelling and different than 98% else of what we’re used to.

In a live setting they’re relentless and merely a tease for the wannabe stage divers up along the rail.   At times they sound like Skrillex meeting Def Leppard – and that’s not a bad thing.   Their abbreviated sets (55 minutes) are probably out of necessity more so than being dictated by their 3-album catalog.   Where they go from here creatively is the million dollar question.   Krauss has the looks to blow up mainstream, so it’s the songs they need to make that full crossover – but that’s only if they want to.   They appear to have the talent to make the primetime connection with more fans, but why do it when you’re blowing away 1000 kids every other night of the year?   It’s a tough choice.   Do you want to be the bully on the block and the type of group Katy Perry would die to be in; or do you want to be like No Doubt and sell a gazillion records and then float away for a decade because you’re sliding down from the top of that popularity mountain?


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