COMMODORE BALLROOM, OCTOBER 10, 2013
Sleigh Bells’ Vancouver stop on their Bitter Rivals tour brought stadium-sized fun to the Commodore. Doldrums served as a competent if unusual warm-up act. This show had a number of firsts for this Montreal-based electronic group. Their druggy eight-song set was their first ever with Sleigh Bells and a live three-piece. Airic Woodhead bobbed and gyrated to throbbing, loopy synth beats, supplying his higher range to the cyclical, groove laden proceedings. “Egypt,” from their latest release Lesser Evil, was a catchy trip. Doldrum’s major sin was their mix, however. The bass on a majority of their more aggressive tracks was overpowering to the point of annoyance. Had that been improved, the band’s sonic playfulness would have shone through even brighter.
Beginning with a marching band intro and ending with the strains of Cyndi Lauper’s “All Through the Night,” Sleigh Bells flattened the crowd with a tasty selection of sugary noise rock. From the start, the group commanded attention through their sheer volume. They were easily the loudest non-metal band this reviewer has heard to date.
Their set list took generously from all three of Sleigh Bells’ albums. Treats stomper “Crown on the Ground” was absolutely seismic in a live setting. Their showmanship was equally impressive. The latest addition of a drummer to their live act gave the distorted bombast a more organic feel. An impressive lighting show and theatrical use of a fog machine added a sense of frenzy to “Comeback Kid” and complemented the creeping, restrained outro to “Born to Lose.”
Alexis Krauss was electrifying throughout, strutting the stage and commanding the audience with a spunk yet tough confidence. Founder Derek Edward Miller and co-guitarist Jason Boyer thrashed along with the chaos wrought by their axes, Miller brandishing one with a tiger print design.
Sleigh Bells drew the night to a close with an extended four-song encore. An acoustic driven performance of “Young Legends” and blistering turn at “Sing Like a Wire” stood out. The pep rally from hell made for one sick party as fans left the Commodore pleased, regardless of the hearing damaged.
By James Olson
Photos by Joshua Grafstein