Video, photos, review: Yeasayer and Sleigh Bells at the Paradise

10 MORE PHOTOS: Yeasayer + Sleigh Bells at the Paradise, May 3, 2010

Drunk at Pitchfork’s Saturday-night South By Southwest showcase last March, I coaxed SLEIGH BELLS’ Alexis Krauss to crowd surf during their M.I.A.-ish punk anthem “Crown on the Ground” (video here). She hit the crowd and briefly fell into my arms. One day we will marry.

When Sleigh Bells took stage at the Paradise on Monday, it was 8:17 pm, and the crowd could hardly muster a hipster head-bob. But from the first deranged chords of their opening song, the duo threw themselves into the set: they always do. Derek Miller copped the whole guitarist-with-mystique thing (and thank you Almost Famous for forever establishing that as a thing, at least in my book): winding himself in slow circles, occasionally offering an emphatic strut-forward to punctuate an already pulverizing high-end guitar attack that totally repped his hardcore roots (Poison the Well!). Yes, an iPod served as Sleigh Bells’s backing band (wish I was kidding) and threatened to overload the house PA, while Krauss took her battle – hair in face, arms frantic -- to the audience. Technically, there’s nothing new about her amalgamation of club chick and riot girl. But as she clawed at the hair of awkwardly shuffling front-rowers and made intimidating, seemingly timeless eye contact with everyone possible, she was mesmerizing in ways to make Medusa jealous.

Sleigh Bells, Live at the Paradise in Boston (2010) from Boston Phoenix on Vimeo.

Sorry, Mssrs Headliners: Sleigh Bells was the main-course ish. After such a raw show (and yes, somehow a show bolstered by an iPod backing track felt raw. I must be losing my edge) Yeasayer had a tough time keeping my attention.  Not to say their show wasn’t entertaining. Their lights were eerily reminiscent of Zordon’s lair from Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, with four-foot tall phosphorescent polygons on which were placed many synths against a background of kaleidoscopic ovals. Their songs even transferred well live. I could feel that epic chill crawl down my spine as they plummeted into the tribal chant of the “2080” chorus. All those weird, proggy ramblings from recent release Odd Blood felt just as weird and proggy. They might’ve taken a cue from their openers and sought out some connection with the audience, but in this case, Yeasayer’s loops and triggers created a gap that their personality couldn’t bridge. Sleigh Bells favor cheap technology and thrive on instinct; Yeasayer felt automatic, like a record caught on a scratch. And it’s fine, being faithful to a recording can be a testament to an artist’s talent. I just want to hear more than live MP3s of a song.

Sleigh Bells - Tell 'Em by nmemagazine

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