Sleigh Bells may only have one full-length album and a half an EP to work from, but that doesn’t bar them from providing main-stage, headliner-caliber performances time after time.
That’s what they achieved last night at the opening of Bonnaroo, as vocalist Alexis Krauss and guitarist Derek E. Miller whirligigged around the stage like janky Chinatown wind-up toys. The duo took the stage only after a full blaring of Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” the opening strains of Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere,” segueing into a death metal track and into that wall of sound that’s put the band on the map.
They hit the majority of the tracks from “Treats,” and threw in “Holly” from their earlier self-released EP. It’s the latter — along with “Rill Rill” and “Rachel” — that always puts some much needed brakes breaks into Sleigh Bells’ runaway train. Krauss oscillates between the high-pitched yelps of a broken cheerleader to the smooth, womanly vocals at high volume, making it understandable why the band can’t do this exact show night after night.
Which may be why Krauss signed off the night with, “See ya in 2012.”
Rolling Stone got dibs on a chat with the band recently, revealing that there will be no new album until next year, though they have big hopes for an equally high-volume set. There’s no other tour dates on slate, and there were no new tracks played during their set, so it looks like the Brooklyn band is hunkering down for round two.
As Krauss catapulted herself into the front-row of the show, I thought about Miller. (No, not like that, though his ability to share the limelight and then utterly disappear from the stage entirely makes for a very sexy, magical presence onstage.) Known as the primary songwriter and schemer in the band, he’s got to be thinking of a few hundred ways how Sleigh Bells’ sophomore set won’t pull a “Hangover 2.” His cohort has the character, fashion and whimsy on keeping the live show feeling new. But the vanity Marshall stacks piled onstage, the double-tracked guitars and usual barrage of programmed drums: they’re a template that may go out the window to keep Miller’s end fresh. I’ll take it any way they wanna give it.
Bonnaroo 2011: Beats Antique, J. Cole and Sleigh Bells rock Thursday