[UPDATE 4/19: We've gotten some emails complaining about our supposed implication that Sleigh Bell's Alexis was lip-synching at Coachella. That's not what we wrote and that's not what our reporter witnessed there. However, the main point stands that both amazingly record-replicating vocalists like Alexis and famous lip-synchers like Britney Spears don't fully satisfy many concertgoers who enjoy the thrill of unexpected variation in live performance.]
How much should live music sound like the recorded version? It's not a new question, and we don't have an answer.
But we were just listening to Sleigh Bells in the Mojave Tent at Coachella, and even with the crowd noise, even with the sound of Afrojack leaking in from one tent over, the songs sounded an awful lot like they do on the album. It's to be expected when a band consists of a guy with a guitar, a woman with a mic, and a big freaking drum machine. There are only so many parts that can be recreated live.
Alexis Krauss' aggressively prissy vocals were, for the most part, dead-on renditions. They were almost too close. So we got out the iPhone and loaded up the Shazam app, and it only took 15 seconds for it to identify the song as “Rill Rill,” off the Treats album. She was so dead-on that Shazam identified the song with no problem, even though it's not supposed to be good with live music.
All of which makes us wonder: If a song sounds exactly the same, whether from the singer lip-syncing or being crazy talented, is there a point in hearing it live? Besides the pulsating Coachella crowd, of course.
For those of you who weren't there, here's what it sounded like, exactly.