It’s truly amazing to see how many popular and trend-setting acts have chosen to perform in Santa Barbara recently. With the help of promoters like Club Mercy, our quiet little beach town has been drawing top-notch musicians and some seriously relevant acts. Treats, the debut record from Brooklyn duo Sleigh Bells, has received praise from Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, and everyone in between and earned the band touring gigs with acts like Yeasayer and LCD Soundsystem, as well as a set at Coachella. And Monday night, these rising stars brought their act to SOhO.
Derek Miller took the stage with his guitar amid a storm of metal riffs and a menacingly illuminated wall of Marshall stacks. Before long, Alexis Krauss charged the stage and grabbed her microphone. From that point on, all eyes were on her as she unleashed a high-energy, fun-filled assault, consisting exclusively of material from the duo’s lone full-length.
With all but the guitar riffs pre-programmed, the performance wasn’t about musicianship, but rather showmanship. Krauss’s stage presence, falling somewhere between reckless rock star and cool pop diva, was more than enough to incite the sold-out crowd to near riot. While the band supplied their own light show to further the intensity, the PA at SOhO held up to the ferocious, overdriven, low-end attack of songs like “Infinity Guitars” and “Tell ’Em.”
After hanging on Krauss’s every word, grabbing at her hands, pulling at her clothes, and watching her perform all of the songs they had come to hear, the crowd still wanted more. With voices hoarse from screaming along, they mustered up enough of a demand for an encore to get Krauss back onstage, only for her to remind everyone how short their record actually is and that they didn’t have any more material.
Despite the vigor of her fans, Krauss walked offstage without any kind of promise to see us again soon, or to return at all, as any promise would have been insincere. The days of catching Sleigh Bells at small venues in small markets are numbered, and those who caught it should consider themselves lucky to have cashed in just before this pair moved on up.