It’s loud and grungy. It’s poppy and dancey. It’s fun and dangerous. This is noise pop. Sleigh Bells brought its own brand of the hybrid genre to the Ogden Theater in Denver on Friday night, along with supporting acts Elite Gymnastics and Javelin.
Watching opener Elite Gymnastics was like watching electronica karaoke - complete with scrolling lyrics and still photos of exotic flowers on a small screen - with the added benefit of a tambourine. Actually, the tambourine might not have been a benefit, but watching them bang it with a drumstick made their mediocre set a little more bearable and entertaining.
Alexis Krauss, lead singer of Sleigh Bells, performs for the crowd at the Ogden Theater on Friday, April 13th. (CU Independent/Kai Casey)
On the other hand, Javelin’s set was so good, they could have easily been the headliner for this show. I was super stoked to be watching them, and I had never even heard of them.
The duo of cousins played a drum kit, guitar, synthesizer and occasional kazoo, and this combination of atypical instruments was what initially hooked me. What reinforced my infatuation was the musical abilities of the band. Every song seemed to be in a different sound: hip hop, dance, hardcore, pop, even tropical. Yet while other bands tend to fall flat when experimenting with other genres, Javelin rocked each one like they had trained in that style for years.
Javelin’s final song was an excellent mix of music perfect for Carnival in Rio De Janeiro and hardcore guitar and drum riffs. In theory, this would seem to be an odd, if not horrible, combination of genres. But in practice? That’s an entire other story. It was by far the best song of the set. If the crowd wasn’t at the very least shaking their hips, they were all-out dancing. If you were at that show and you didn’t get down, you have no soul.
As soon as the stage went pitch black for Sleigh Bells, the crowd roared. Unbelievably, the audience grew even louder as Alexis Krauss, Derek Miller and the secondary guitarist came onstage and launched into “Demons,” one of the heavier tracks off of their sophomore album, “Reign of Terror.” The pit broke turned into a sea of headbanging and fist pumping, but not the tacky, “Jersey Shore” kind. These kids were hardcore.
Guitarist Jason Boyer of Sleigh Bells plays on Friday, April 13th at the Ogden Theater. (CU Independent/Kai Casey)
Sleigh Bells maintained this high level of energy through the first four songs, including its single, “Crown on the Ground,” off their debut, “Treats,” as well as “True Shred Guitar” and “Kids,” during which Krauss held the stage by herself. After she was rejoined by the guitarists for the slower “End of the Line,” the energy level came down significantly. Even with Krauss dancing wildly onstage during singles like “Comeback Kid,” “Infinity Guitars” and “Rill Rill,” the audience wasn’t as excited as it had been at beginning of the set.
The highlight of the show was during the final song of the encore. Krauss climbed out on top of the audience during the finale, then crowd-surfed through the remainder of that song. At this point, the audience finally reached its original energy level.
Though Krauss’ vocals were occasionally nasally, she and Miller put on an exciting show. I found myself dancing to all but two songs, and those were the only two slow songs in the set. Seeing your favorite band live can often be disappointing, but Sleigh Bells did not let me down.
Contact CU Independent Entertainment Editor Avalon Jacka at Avalon.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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