Concert Reviews
The hottest gigs straight from the venue to your couch

Live Review: Sleigh Bells, CSS in Nashville (5/3)

on May 04, 2011, 2:22pm

The last time Sleigh Bells swung through Nashville, they played the town’s favorite hole-in-the-wall venue – a capacity of maybe 300 and in a room the size of a double car garage with an 18 inch tall stage. This was just last summer. Needless to say, things have changed since then for the noisy Brooklyn duo, as a nearly sold out crowd piled into Cannery Ballroom this Tuesday night to snag some Treats. Luckily, the raw energy of their show live hasn’t changed at all, as their set proved to be spot-on, intense, and, at times with the thrashing crowd, painful. Before that, though, opener Bosco Delray started the night off on an, well, interesting note.

With the show boasting an absurdly early start time, the crowd was sparse when New Jersey’s Bosco Delrey took the stage. Sporting black sunglasses, a leather jacket, and a guitar, Delrey’s stage presence immediately brought to mind Julian Casablancas or someone of comparable swagger. Unfortunately, the performance failed to match the outfit. Performing genre-bending songs composed of strangely hybridized dancehall, rockabilly and grunge, but doing so with solely a computer and a guitar, Bosco’s tunes did not work too well. The mix may work well on a record, but his live show could definitely use some energy, as the entire crowd was visibly disinterested about 30 seconds into the first song. His almost comedic self-degradation and incoherent rambling added to the shambles of the set, with him bursting out at one point, “This music? You can do it too! Take the easy way out, do what I do and just push play on the computer. Fuck it, man.” After playing for nearly 40 minutes, he decided that he wasn’t to play any more. The computer disagreed, continuing with beats for about a minute, but the crowd certainly did not.

delrey keeper 1 Live Review: Sleigh Bells, CSS in Nashville (5/3)

Photo by Sebastian Rogers

Still digesting the mess that was Bosco Delrey but compensating with copious amounts of alcohol, the audience’s energy was ready to burst when Brazil’s CSS finally came out to play. The band’s performance was impeccable, performing their sexually-charged dance anthems with admirable tightness and contagious energy. Opening with “Jager Yoga”, Lovefoxxx’s vocal performance sounded even better than the records and her dancing matched her voice’s caliber. The experience transcended solely a good technical performance, as the fog and dramatic lights magnified and rendered nearly magical every aspect of the show. After introducing the band and explaining the disjointed setlist as a result of the drummer Adriano Cintra picking the night’s songs, Lovefoxxx literally shredded her shirt (it was a paper Whole Foods bag) and launched into a slew of great songs, including new track “Hits Me Like a Rock”.

css keeper 2b Live Review: Sleigh Bells, CSS in Nashville (5/3)

Photo by Sebastian Rogers

Not surprisingly, the audience exploded into a huge dance party when the band played anthemic, famed single “Music is My Hot, Hot Sex”. It sounded great and as Lovefoxxx sang “Music is my boyfriend,” everybody in the building probably wished that she was their girlfriend. The rest of the set followed in the same vein: interminable energy, ridiculous stage antics (e.g., the appearance of a keytar), endless enthusiasm, and, on the whole, a damn good set that easily could have been a headliner’s. Fifty minutes was not nearly long enough, even if they did perform powerful versions of “Rat is Dead” and “Off the Hook”.

After a 30 minute set change, featuring the lovely tunes of Aerosmith and Van Halen, strangely enough, the general sentiment in the building was wondering how matching CSS’s show would even be possible. Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss’ wall of amps and strobe lights quickly cleared up that question, as the building literally shook as their intro, consisting of “Iron Man”, blew everybody away. With just two people, the stage looked and felt kind of empty until the first screeches of “Crown on the Ground” started playing. Krauss’ voice and commanding stage presence were captivating, as the contrast between her sweet voice and ferocious personality were in full force. Singing perfectly in key and thrashing around the stage, frequently interacting with the crowd and genuinely enjoying her performance, Krauss got the audience pumped to the point of thrash dancing and push pits.

sleigh bells keeper 1 picnik Live Review: Sleigh Bells, CSS in Nashville (5/3)

Photo by Sebastian Rogers

The onslaught of noise, light, and fog continued into crowd favorites such as “Tell ‘Em” and “Kids” directly followed. The warped, grinding noise was entrancing as the strobe lights rhythmically silhouetted Krauss’ whipping hair. On a sonic side note, in a venue known for shoddy acoustics, it was excellent to see the potential of its bass put to use. The building trembled and the crowd could hardly contain itself, as its foundations were obliterated by “Infinity Guitars”. Although their interaction with the crowd was limited to shrieks of “We’re Sleigh Bells!” and encouraging sing-alongs, it was probably better not to interrupt the flow of the music. Breaking after “Rill Rill” and a crowd full of hands raising hearts to the sky, such a desperate plea for an encore has hardly been seen. A three song encore satisfied the call, but the night still felt too young to end.

sleighbells1 Live Review: Sleigh Bells, CSS in Nashville (5/3)

Photo by Sebastian Rogers

Although their set was short, a girl in the crowd perfectly summed it up: “Them playing any longer would be like sprinting a marathon. Too much.” Krauss and Miller have perfected translating electronic music live and creating an environment conducive to ridiculous dancing and cathartic release with an unparalleled intensity. What was supposed to be an excuse to skip their set at Bonnaroo turned Sleigh Bells into a must-see, and I personally can’t wait.

Photography by Sebastian Rogers

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