The guitar & girl duo didn't stay long at the House of Blues, but they made an impact.
Sleigh Bells went onstage slightly after 10, and at 10:58 I was on the sidewalk outside the House of Blues, show over including encores. A show that short would usually be a reason for grumbling, but the crowd left seriously buzzed, and it's hard to imagine anyone seriously wanting more. With six Marshall cabinets per guitar and an army of lights trained on the audience, Sleigh Bells came hard at the audience in all the best ways.
I didn't get last year's Reign of Terror, where the intense compression on the big, metal guitars made them less big, less metal. They added texture but not punch. Last night, they were hard and the drum programming at times was harder, with some clicks rippling the sleeves of my shirt as I stood in front of the back bar.
That I was largely prepared for. When Sleigh Bells played The Varsity in Baton Rouge last year, Derek Miller's guitar buried everything including singer Alexis Krauss, and she was an inconsequential presence - more a high school cheerleader pushed onstage to front a band than a lead singer. In the year and change since that appearance, she's become a rock star - still a lot of jumping and dancing with hands in the air, but with exponentially more commitment. When Miller and the touring second guitarist left the stage for the last song of the set, Krauss sang "Rill Rill" from Treats backed only by pre-recorded tracks and made the moment feel intimate after 40 or so minutes of pounding dance metal. She ventured out into the audience with no mates onstage and trusted the crowd to hold her up and keep her aloft as she sang.
During the show, Krauss explained that New Orleans is the only city name-checked on Reign of Terror; in fact, the first words are a shouted "New Orleans!" at the start of "True Shred Guitar." For the show, Miller wore a Lance Moore jersey, albeit modified with "Trueshred" (I think) on the back where Moore's name would go.
By the end of "Riot Rhythm" and "A/B Machines," it was hard to feel gypped, and maybe brevity is Sleigh Bells' friend. How much pummelling can an audience take, and how many songs could the band play before bubblegum melodies, metal guitars and phasers-on-stun drum programming sound too similar? Its hard to imagine a longer set making me like the band more.