AB Concerts presents Sleigh Bells

Sleigh Bells performed with stunning stage lights on Saturday night Wiegand Gymnasium. (credit: Kate Groschner/) Sleigh Bells performed with stunning stage lights on Saturday night Wiegand Gymnasium. (credit: Kate Groschner/)

What happens when an elementary school Spanish teacher and a hardcore guitarist decide to form a musical duo? In this case, Sleigh Bells was born.

On Saturday night, the duo performed at Carnegie Mellon with an accompanying guitarist, delivering a show complete with loud music, energy, and a spectacular lights show. While the concert was high quality and enjoyable to a wide audience, Sleigh Bells’ music is definitely catered to a specific taste.

The band’s genre is most often described as noise pop and is particularly difficult to describe to anyone who has never heard it before. It’s a good thing, then, that the duo came to Carnegie Mellon and performed with opener AraabMuzik, exposing those who had never heard of Sleigh Bells’ music to something completely new.

If one word could be used to describe Sleigh Bells in concert, it would be loud. Noise pop is in fact the perfect way to describe what the musical duo performed, with what vocalist Alexis Krauss described in an interview with Australian music magazine Inpress as a mixture of “distortion and volume, poppy vocals mixed with harsh, over-driven, blown-out beats.” Consisting of Krauss, previously a teacher, and guitarist Derek Miller, formerly of the band Poison the Well, Sleigh Bells combines “guitar rock and electric music” for a unique sound, according to Miller in an interview with Pitchfork.

AraabMuzik, whose real name is Abraham Orellana, began the show with loud, fast-paced, rhythmic beats, better suited for dancing than Sleigh Bells’ set. His style revolves around a diverse sampling of music such as trance music and dubstep; he then uses the MPC drum machine to cut up the samples and incorporate rapid drum patterns. His performance was entertaining, and the music was catchy and well received by the audience, even more so for those who enjoy the genres incorporated into his music. As with any concert, the crowd got a little crazy after a few songs, especially those who were closer to the stage. There was a circle of students running into each other, and at one point, it felt as if the audience was pushing on itself from every direction.

The gap between AraabMuzik’s performance and Sleigh Bells’ was a long one, and people began to feel impatient, inspiring a few to start chanting, “Sleigh Bells! Sleigh Bells!” When Krauss and Miller eventually emerged on the stage, the crowd went wild again, excited for the concert they had come to watch. Krauss jumped around onstage and held hands with members of the audience, and both Krauss and Miller dove into the crowd at one point. As a result, the audience gained the energy it had lost during the wait between sets. To someone unacquainted with Sleigh Bells, the vocals consisted of Krauss almost shouting at the audience, combined with an electric guitar and elements of electronic music in the background.

Overall, the concert was enjoyable and high in quality, even if the music style did not fit everyone’s palate. Sleigh Bells seems to enjoy playing with different elements, combining sounds that appear cacophonous at first, but work together to create a unique sound. For people that enjoy this music style, or are interested in trying something new, they can look forward to Sleigh Bells’ newest album, scheduled for release in 2013. In the meantime, they can listen to the band’s album Reign of Terror, released in February.