Photo: Roger Kisby/Getty Images
You don't need to be talented in order to become successful in today's music industry. This was established back when we were bombarded by chemically-engineered teeny boppers, boy bands, powerful voice equalizers, and dubbing. Technology is amazing, no doubt. I don't know what I would do sans iPod, but unfortunately the magic of computers has lessened our standards when it comes to real talent. While technology in the production booth enhances the skills of the gifted, it also masks the incompetence of those who are less "endowed" with an ear for music.
Going to a live a show is supposed to enchant the audience and heighten the musical experience, not diminish it. There have been times where I fell completely in love with an album ONLY after seeing the band perform live. Unfortunately, Sleigh Bells (or as I currently call them, "Slay Bells") was not a fun concert experience. I was, and still am, so disappointed. So much so, I have not been able to play their record since.
The hardcore synth-pop duo may not be musically inclined, but are they ever smart. Especially lead singer Alexis Krauss. The former fourth-grade teacher was pursuing a Rhodes scholarship when she happened to meet fellow band-mate Derek E. Miller. The two performed at a CMJ showcase in 2009, released an EP, and two successful full-length albums followed within a few short years. The songs were good, had original beats, and the combined forces of power chords and pop lyrics.
Krauss and Miller understand what screams (no pun intended) success in today's music industry: bright lights, flashy outfits, edgy images, loud harmonies, screaming, and lots of bass. Oh, and lest we not forget, the oh-so cool pretense of not giving a flying you know what. Talk about selling one's image to the extreme. However, you know something is up when everything except the music is being "sold."
I admit I've enjoyed all of their releases. Sleigh Bells albums are fun and nearly everyone I know who has heard one of their songs becomes a fan. Notice I say "albums" and not "live performance" or "show."
I dragged a friend of mine along because concerts are way more fun when you're not alone. I don't think I've ever been more thankful to have someone with me at a concert. She became a witness, and also one of many unsuspecting victims, of the Sleigh Bells. The show was a massacre of the senses because the band literally destroyed every single one of our five senses.
Sight: Bright strobe lights. The intensity was so great that my eyes actually hurt. It was so painful; I considered wearing my sunglasses in the venue. Everywhere I looked, people were holding their hands out in front of their eyes. Squinting and looking away from the stage, we tried to shield ourselves from the non-stop flashes of temporary blindness. I like light shows, but this was too much. It was overdone, obnoxious, and destroyed the show before the band even took to the stage.
Sound: LOUD.NOISY. BAD. Seriously, that is how I would describe the sound at Corona Theatre that night, and Sleigh Bells is purely at fault. Every song sounded the same, and we could barely hear Krauss singing over the overly-loud bass. The floorboards were vibrating from the power of the stereo system, and it was not cool. If you read reviews of the duo you'll notice a lot of music journalists and writers describe them as "noise-pop." That is pretentious garble if you ask me. Noise is noise. The Raveonettes know how to successfully combine noisiness and beats so it fits into their melodic songs, but Sleigh Bells is pure noise when it comes down to it. If you enjoy seeing them perform then you will absolutely love the white noise of your television set.
Taste: You know a show is bad when you overhear people saying things like, "I really need to get drunk" and "Damn, I need a drink." The band left a sour taste in one's mouth, to say the least, and not even alcohol was able to quench our thirst for something audibly bearable. A bad residual taste clung to our wallets as well. The cost of the tickets was really overpriced, the theatre was less than half full, and I don't think people were very happy with their purchase.
Touch: I was so unmoved by the performance that I left early and I usually don't do that. I was deeply disappointed because I really liked Sleigh Bells. I've always enjoyed playing their album at parties or on my show, but their performance was dismal and seemed like a money grab. Krauss is a great entertainer, and she was fun to watch as she thrashed around stage. However, her prancing and head banging did not make up for the poor sound quality.
Smell: The show stank.
Would you believe that Corona Theatre is getting the reputation as a venue that holds crappy concerts? It's such a beautiful venue and in a great part of the city, what with awesome pubs and bars surrounding it. Whoever is in charge of shows there better get with it before it's too late. My ears and eyes stung the following day. My friend and I actually discussed the show and talked about what an awful experience it was. She admitted she did not know the band but is now completely turned off by them and refuses to even listen to their album. You can't really blame her. I, on the other hand, am impressed by Sleigh Bell's producers and record label. Good job guys! The album is great but the band, not so much.
I give Sleigh Bells 1.5/5 Starrs for overall experience. I would have given them an even 2 if the show was cheaper.