Pitchfork Music Festival 2012, live review | Sleigh Bells
So I'm watching two dudes with pointy, lacquered Jackson guitars "shred" and "noodle" and "rip off some righteous licks," or whatever, and the first thing that comes to mind is, "Oh, yeah, Keanu Reeves said they're making a new Bill & Ted movie." A strange thought to pop in your head while watching a band at Pitchfork, but the similarities between Sleigh Bells and Wyld Stallyns run deep. Both sound like teenage Van Halen, but without the drums, bass or Eddie Van Halen, with a medieval princess singing. The two crew cuts—the dude in all the press photos (we'll call him Bill) and the touring guitarist in a Void t-shirt who looks like his surly older brother (Ted)—stomp. Alexis Krauss leads aerobic like Joan of Arc.
Twelve Marshall amps form a wall behind the band. A smoke machine stands in for a living, breathing drummer. Two of the Marshalls are being mic'ed. I suspect the rest are hollow. From far away, this pop-metal sound comically, cell phone-speaker thin. Like the records. But here's the thing with seeing Sleigh Bells live that you can't do with a record. Walk closer. Get up in the front. The imitation percussion might still overwhelm those mysteriously weenie guitars, but there it is, you feel it: the elusive bass.
Krauss dispenses water to the crowd and dumps it on her. "Keep 'em up!" she yells to the sweaty kids and their arms. She wears a ripped t-shirt that says "Wet Witch."
Sleigh Bells is markedly improved since its last P4K performance. As Rufus says before the credit roll, "They get better." The three come on stage to gangsta rap and walk too to Cyndi Lauper. Somewhere in the middle is Sleigh Bells.