Sleigh Bells, Ejecta Crescent Ballroom 4/9/14
On their way to Coachella, Sleigh Bells dropped by Phoenix for their first show in the Valley in three years. The gig sold out and the place was packed full of girls dressed like rock stars. It was one loud, flashy roller coaster ride -- packaged perfectly for a venue like Crescent Ballroom, but there were some downsides.
Ejecta, a small girl with homegrown bleached blonde hair and a white guitar smeared in Halloween blood, gave the night the ideal context. Her soft, doe-like voice floated into drum machine beats and angelic chords traced with reverb.
She carried into a track with a kicking bass, resonating like a Ritalin comedown. Ejecta interjected a series of synth drops juxtaposed against static-heavy guitar.
Ejecta's set almost felt filtered through toy amplifiers via a Kate Bush structure, and this actually made it more attractive. If only the people behind me weren't fucking talking! I moved to the other side of the stage, but everyone was chatting there too! Someone needs to bring a Taser to these things.
I noticed Sleigh Bells had some gigantic amps. This worried me because I had volunteered my earplugs to a cute girl in front of me. Plus, obviously these venues have to turn the volume up to an 11 to drown out the morons who think they're in a movie or something. Thanks, Crescent!
Then Alexis Krauss and the rest of Sleigh Bells came on like a flash flood. Krauss tore across the stage in a studded jean jacket accented with cheetah print. She appeared and acted more like an MC than a singer, channeling Lauryn Hill more than Lana Del Rey, if that makes sense. It was more powerful for Krauss to dodge around with the mic held rapper-style than to hold still in front of a mic stand. Plus, the full band made the sound seem entirely fleshed out.
Personally, I felt like Sleigh Bells' second album lacked energy and ignored their most recent release, so I didn't recognize a third of the songs, including their opening cut. The band played "Comeback Kid," and I noticed the energy was pretty much neutral for these newer tracks. Not terrible, just flashy and booming and little else. I decided to give that second album a second chance and picked up the third at the merch table. The album art included photographs of Krauss's diary.
But there was a clear and consistent increase in the crowd's response during any track cut from Sleigh Bells' debut, Treats. "Infinity Guitars" and "Crown On The Ground" got more respect and enthusiasm than newer songs like "Born to Lose" or "Bitter Rivals." Also, I swear that during "Kids," Krauss screamed "Bulls on parade!" and suddenly the riffs fit into place.
Krauss made a deal with the crowd -- she'd give "200 percent" if we'd give the same. She might be used to more energetic audiences, but here people are too busy talking or being on their smart phones. Yet, touching strangers is gross, and why would we want to dance? Eww. We might get sweaty.
For the encore, Krauss returned in a cheetah print Rocky bathrobe (or whatever boxers wear that resembles a hoodie). "A/B Machines" was her closing song and it delivered the most wallop the night had seen. I realized Sleigh Bells is kind of like a modern version of Heart with this pep rally skeleton that dominates their aesthetic. I think that's why I like them, but might have a hard time relating -- I never went to a school that had a gym, let alone a cheerleading squad or any sports teams.
Somewhere during the show, I was hit with a ball of glitter. I think it was the weird people talking behind me who said "nobody will notice!" or something like that. At first, I thought it just made my night a little more interesting. But then it got in my mouth. Then in my underwear. I tracked it inside my house. I took a shower and now my shower is covered in glitter. I still am. It didn't come off. I will be doused in glitter forever. My bed is ruined. Thanks a lot, you stupid anonymous assholes. You have forever stained me with your fairy farts.
But honestly, it was all worth it. I haven't left a Crescent show feeling "exhilarated" like that in a while. I like leaving a venue drenched in sweat and, I guess, craft supplies. And people talk during movies too. While I still want to mace them, it doesn't mean I'm going to let it ruin my night. But seriously, shut the fuck up.
Last Night: Ejecta, Sleigh Bells at Crescent Ballroom.
The Crowd: Chic chicks with excellent taste in fashion. If there's any reason to go a show like this, the attractive women are definitely a plus. Even my lady friend agreed.
Overheard: "Hearing? What's that?"
Personal Bias: This is the first concert I've been to that sold nail art at the merch table. Probably a smart move.
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