Fox Theater Pomona
April 4, 2012
The crowd chanted “Sleigh Bells, Sleigh Bells, Sleigh Bells” in an unlit theater. A fog machine spewing vapors and elegiac church music set the tone of reverence and worship-like fervor bordering on hysteria for the Brooklyn digital hardcore group Sleigh Bells, composed of singer Alexis Krauss and guitarist Derek Miller.
Sleigh Bells is not exactly indie rock or pop on meth or dance-punk, but a combination of them all. The crowd was full of people dancing, writhing, and headbanging.
“You guys are fucking awesome!” Krauss said. Upturned faces reflected pulsating red and white strobe lights. Bodies contorted like snakes; hands and arms wrote patterns in the air to “Demons” (“They're gonna bury you, They're gonna finish, They're gonna stand 'em up six by six by six”).
The band's been touring since February, having stopped by the Mayan theater back on February 21 to promote their second studio album, Reign of Terror.
Lyrics like, “Heard you say suicide in your sleep, Just get on with it you were born to lose, Will you hang like the moon from a rope in your room, Oh you long for it,” from “Born to Lose” matched Krauss's icy vocals and the group's heady, heavy guitar riffs. Fans cheered to the relatively upbeat “Comeback Kid” and arms waved in unison to crowd favorite “Tell 'Em.”
Tossing her hair, thrusting her body and reaching into the crowd, she seemed to forcefully draw out and give back the intense energy that emanated so tangibly in the theater. She jumped the metal barrier separating the stage from the fans and immersed herself in them. Two girls lost it and got dragged out by security. “Let's keep this shit fun,” Alexis said as she climbed back on stage.
Pounding bass lines and throbbing lights induced epileptic-like dance moves from the audience, and no one cared because they were lost in “Infinity Guitars.” The poppy and cheerful “Rill Rill” off first studio album Treats rounded out the show while Krauss body-surfed.
“Pomona, it's been fucking fun,” she said. The stage faded to black, then came back on to blue and green strobe lights and two encore songs. Faces looked ghostly, and Alexis's piercing and powerful voice sounded like a mermaid singing underwater.
“This is our last song; I know you know the words!” she screamed, before “A/B Machines” came on to everyone jumping up and down as one huge mass. The 50-minute show ended with a short, “That's it!” and the house lights were abruptly turned on while people staggered around like they just got electrocuted.
Overheard in the crowd: Get excited Jensen! (Jensen: I'm scared.)
Personal Bias: Sleigh Bells reminds me of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs performing “Art Star,” which is the best song in the world.
The Crowd: College kids and the occasional person over 50.
Random Notebook Dump: “Behind closed doors these guys are the best motherfuckers to go on tour with,” said opener Javelin. It was their second show on tour with Sleigh Bells and Elite Gymnastics.
Sleigh Bells set list below: