Concert Review: Sleigh Bells at Terminal 5: November 23, 2013
It was only a month ago that I wrote about Sleigh Bells, when I attended the Brooklyn band’s album release show for new (third) album Bitter Rivals at Greenwich Village’s Le Poisson Rouge. Saturday night at Terminal 5 was a great show – different in the larger venue – and confirmed what I already suspected. Based solely on the album release show I claimed that “while [Bitter Rivals] isn’t quite more of the same, it certainly stays within the wheelhouse of Sleigh Bells’ loud, hard-partying first two excellent albums” – 2010’s Treats and 2012’s Reign of Terror. Now, having listened to the album quite a bit for the past month and having seen the three albums more or less represented equally in a single set, I can confirm what I originally wrote – Sleigh Bells still shreds, regardless of what album they’re playing from.
Alexis Krauss didn’t come out this time wearing a full-length leopard print boxing robe with the words “Bitter Rivals” stitched across the back, but that’s about the only thing she didn’t bring on this night. Storming all over the stage, imploring the crowd to “just fucking dance”, I may have found the only performer who could make Terminal 5 seem somewhat small. In the many times I’ve been there, I’ve discovered that unless I’m in the front 1/3 of the crowd – and of course on the ground floor – the cavernous space makes the action on stage seem too distant, the sound of the band too far removed. The closest I’ve seen before to a group really owning Terminal 5 is Matt & Kim, whom I’ve otherwise compared to Sleigh Bells before (they’re the happy version of Sleigh Bells’ rage pop). Sleigh Bells even surpassed Matt & Kim in terms of their ability to make their sound fill the room, “reach” the farther reaches of the dance floor, and generally get every last person in the room pumped. This was most evident in the night’s clear highlight, the simple, loud, repetitive “A/B Machines.” From my vantage point, there wasn’t a person in the room who wasn’t chanting and dancing.
Otherwise, the standout songs of the evening are exactly the ones you’d expect. From the new album, “Bitter Rivals”, “Minnie”, “You Don’t Get Me Twice” and “Sing Like a Wire” (played during the encore) received the most positive response. The show ended too soon for my tastes – even with the encore, the set was a quick hour at best – but went out with a bang just like it came in, with “Infinity Guitars” another excellent live song – taking us out.