with Sleigh Bells
Hard Rock Live, Orlando, Fl • October 5, 2010
I don’t dance… rather, you don’t want to see my attempt at dancing — it’s not very graceful. However, even I felt the urge to slip on my dancing shoes at the LCD Soundsystem/ Sleigh Bells extravaganza!
It all began as the lights fell for the so-hot-they’re-about-to-burst duo Sleigh Bells. The lights fell and they never came back up, except in the form of strobe flashes every few seconds. Syncing up with the apocalyptic drumming — which, along with some other effects, was prerecorded and set to blare through the Marshall stacks at full volume — the chaotic audio explosions fit the pair’s sound like a pair of black lace leggings. It was all so gloriously dark and titillating.
With only one album under their belts, Derek E. Miller and Alexis Krauss played it (Treats) almost in its entirety, also slipping in a juicy B-side in the form of the Beastie Boys-ish “Holly.” From the dirty boot stomp of “Tell ’em,” to the high speed chase of “Riot Rhythm” (which you may know from the Honda commercial) Krauss electrified — dancing about her small corner of the stage with complete abandon.
That’s not to say that the pair didn’t know how to cool things down. The night’s sole slow dance selection was the warm summer breeze beauty, “Rill Rill.” Not only was it the only moment of the set that didn’t have a supersonic pace to it, but, fittingly, it was the only few minutes of solid lighting that bathed both Krauss (Miller sat the song out, leaving the backup tracks to assist the live vocals) and the swaying crowd in honey yellow and Caribbean blue light. Gorgeous. Sleigh Bells, or “Slay fucking Bells” as their t-shirts proclaim (yeah, I bought one!), are the band to get hip to, folks!
There was a palpable craving in the air for the dance punk to explode even further, and who better to satiate that urge than one of most innovative minds of the genre, James Murphy: DFA Records co-founder and “LCD Soundsystem” to the masses.
Though on record Murphy has got his hands on just about all of the controls — from the instruments, to songwriting and vocals, to production — on tour he brings a caravan of musicians with him to recreate the epic club rock scope of his albums. The current tour includes, among the seven men and women onstage, Al Doyle of Hot Chip on bass and keyboards. Serving as an eighth player is the vast city-wide blackout level of a light show that surrounds the back and sides of the hodgepodge collection of instruments onstage. The kaleidoscope of color and light was the antithesis of Sleigh Bells’ set.
Opening up with a pair of songs off of the tremendously danceable This Is Happening, the band’s third and rumored to be last album, Murphy and pack of merry music makers flipped the switch to high voltage without preamble. Giving the crowd “Drunk Girls” so early in the night was a gift that invited the excited fans to party up even harder. A song that celebrates, or ironically criticizes (depending on your interpretation), the drunken wiles of drunk girls and boys and the chaotic drama that inevitably results — if that’s not a party starter, I don’t know what is! A baby may have been resulted from a hookup that occurred during the performance of this night!
The packed in floor level of the Hard Rock Live was swarming with movement as the night carried on, every now and then peaking at an alarming level like when “Daft Punk Is Playing at My House” invaded the air. Following hot on its heels was “I Can Change,” whose new wave groove smashes head on into dreamy electro in a terribly delicious way. After a few relatively cool down songs, “Tribulations” plowed into the room and the room, once more, became a blur. Even the upstairs fans could be seen exiting their seats and throwing their arms in the air. Getting the balcony to dance, now that’s accomplishment!
A three-song encore, including the group’s debut single “Losing My Edge” and wrapping up with the extended trance whirl “Home,” capped off a perfect fall night of intelligent dance music. If and when either band comes through town again, I may just have to take a few dance lessons. Look for me on the dance floor.
To see more photos from this show, and others, go to www.jencray.com.