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Review Tue Nov 12 2013

Sleigh Bells Wind Up the Crowd at Metro

By Patrick Donachie

Sleigh Bells' sold-out show at the Metro last Sunday was their fourth at the club, and vocalist Alexis Krauss noted it from the stage. "When are you guys gonna get sick of us?" she asked after expressing her thanks to the venue for continuously having them back. If the reaction of the crowd is any indication, both the venue and the band's fan base are unlikely to turn on them anytime soon. The audience gave as good as they got throughout the high-energy performance, not content to merely offer polite applause during the breaks; they were there to equal the band's high-wire enthusiasm.

The night began with Doldrums, an electronic trio based out of Montreal. Their sinewy arrangements fluctuated between hard-hitting bass and synth attacks and more serene mood-setters, often within the same song. Considering the excitement of the crowd, it seems likely they left with more than a few new converts. Shortly thereafter, the lights dimmed, the smoke machines turned on, and enough strobe lights flashed to risk a seizure. Guitarist Ryan Primack and drummer Chris Maggio appeared first (Sleigh Bells is utilizing a live drummer for the first time on this tour), followed by guitarist and producer Derek Miller. Finally Krauss, clad in a boxer's robe emblazoned with her initials, came onstage to massive applause. The band crashed into "Minnie," a track off their new record Bitter Rivals, and by the end of the song the boxer's robe had been tossed to the side. Krauss engaged the crowd from the first note to the last, not content to let the musical performance do all the work.

Her demeanor onstage matched the feel of the music itself. Sleigh Bells' pummeling, outlandish vibe on record is only amplified live; quite literally, in the case of the guitarists. Each of them utilized two massive amplifiers, and according to a fan that had seen them previously, this was a step down from their previous setup. At times, it felt like Krauss' voice was backed by three sledgehammers for instrumentation.

After a few songs, the two guitarists walked offstage as Krauss and Maggio tackled "Kids," from Sleigh Bells' debut Treats. However, Miller wasn't gone long; he quickly reappeared as the concert's first crowd-surfer, although he was by no means the last. After "Kids", the guitarists re-emerged for "Demons" off sophomore record Reign of Terror, and the one-two punch put the energy of the band and crowd on another level for the remainder of the set. The highlight of the evening came with the set closer "Infinity Guitars." In a way, it was a perfect distillation of the band's live sound; a battering ram of a riff, an unrelenting drumbeat, and Krauss vaulting back and forth between breathy pop hooks and frenzied call-and-response verses. For the three minutes of the song the energy was palpable as the band piled distorted climax upon climax onto a growing mosh pit.

As mentioned, Miller's prior experience came from stints in hardcore bands, whereas Krauss' past pedigree includes teen pop. The most surprising aspect of Sleigh Bells' music, both on record and live, is how blatantly obvious these antecedents are, and how clearly you can pick up on them in the band's music. The excitement when watching Sleigh Bells comes not from hearing how mashing these influences together gave birth to a cohesive style, but from hearing the volatile combustion of these very different genres racing headfirst into each other at high speed. Live, it can be a disorienting listen, but it's hard not to be swept up by the explosiveness.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
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