35 Minutes of Chaos: Sleigh Bells @ Larimer Lounge

There have always been similarities between Crystal Castles and Sleigh Bells.  Both bands make extreme electronic music that leave your ears ringing for hours.  Both mix elements of electronica and hip-hop with a DIY punk aesthetic.  Both are led by charismatic female vocalists.  And now we can add one more similarity to that list…both perform very short, intense sets with no encore.

When I heard Sleigh Bells were playing Larimer Lounge I was surprised.  Having seen the Brooklyn duo a few times before, I would have thought they would at least be playing The Bluebird.  They opened for Yeasayer earlier in the year and had no problem filling that stage, so I was not surprised when this show sold out well in advance.  The place was packed early and by the time they took the stage it was hard to move.

A friend from Boulder was supposed to come down for the show but ended up canceling at the last minute.  What started out bad news for me, because I didn’t want to cruise down to the Lounge solo, ended up working out because my wife joined me for the show.  I dragged her half-way across Austin for their set at SXSW and she’s been a huge fan ever since.

Denver‘s own Pictureplane, aka Travis Egedy, opened the show with the perfect soundtrack for this dark October night.  Dark, lo-fi electronic tracks with ‘gothic daughters’ dancers in facemasks entertained the zombies and pantless Santas in the crowd.  It seems Halloween came early in Denver this year.  I am not a huge fan of the Dark Rift album but the music, covering everything from ‘post-human sexuality‘ to ‘telepathic teenage vampires‘, translated much better in a live setting.  I was completely entertained through his 40-min set.  I would have even stuck around for his DJ set after Sleigh Bells if it weren’t for our 12:30pm curfew.

We did our best to stand our ground in the front row after Pictureplane‘s set.  The crowd became more and more dense and holding our spot got tough as time went on.  By 11:10pm, when Sleigh Bells took the stage to a death metal intro with Slayer riffs, the crowd blew up into something like a mosh pit at a rave.  An interesting and volatile mix.

Derek provided the brain-jarring beats and guitar to compliment Alexis‘ ultra-sexy vocals and spastic dancing.  Fog machines and strobe lights made her movements look almost inhuman, not unlike Alice Glass during Crystal Castles performances.  Neither of them said much between songs except for Alexis thanking Denver a few times.

About 25 minutes into the set it was hard to stand our ground.  We were dancing with the rest of the crowd but when you’ve got half the people dancing and the other half headbanging and slamming around, it’s hard not to get drown in the tide.  We ended up abandoning our spot and heading to the side of the stage.

15 minutes later, after Crown on the Ground, the show ended abruptly.

It had only been 35 minutes since the band had taken the stage and the show was over. They exited stage-right and the house lights came on.  I was not expecting this.  I am used to Crystal Castles performing 30 minute sets and leaving the audience feeling like they just got hit by a bus, but I expected more from Sleigh Bells.  Their opening set for Yeasayer was longer than this!

That being said, we were planning on an early night anyway and the 35 minutes were intense as hell.  In the beginning Alexis‘ voice was drown in the mix but that was fixed by the 2nd song and the rest of the set was everything you’d expect from this duo.  I don’t think anyone will have anything to complain about…except for the fact that it was all over too early.