The sweaty, young crowd packed into downtown St. Pete's State Theatre on Friday night appeared, during the early part of CSS' set, to be predominantly be waiting for Sleigh Bells and the Brooklyn duo's cacophony. But the enthusiastic concertgoers were more than willing to be won over by CSS and their catchy dance-pop, and even feign tolerance — much more so than myself — of goofy opener Bosco Delray and his young Bob Dylan-meets-late 80's U2 one-man-band foolishness. [All photos by Drunkcameraguy.]
CSS singer Lovefoxx worked diligently to gain the love of her audience. "Everyone should be illegally drinking!" she proclaimed, no doubt music to her young admirers' ears.
The balance of the Brazilian sextet she fronted played an ever-changing combination of three guitars, synth setups, and a keytar in addition to the rhythm section. Despite the jam-packed stage, most of the band hung back so Lovefoxx had room to sway, dance, and work the crowd. The audience finally started responding during the iPod-hawking "Music Is My Hot Hot Sex," spurred by a thumping bass groove and Lovefoxx slowly stripping down to a torn t-shirt and cutoffs. CSS and their exuberant dance-pop owned the crowd once and for all with the theramin-solo climax of "Let's Make Love And Listen To Death From Above," which would have been a perfect set-closing moment if there wasn't still one song left to go.
Sleigh Bells guitarist Derek Miller was mashing up Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" with his own "Crown On The Ground" as singer Alexis Crauss appeared like a twirling tornado of black leather and long brunette hair [pictured left]. It appeared as if Miller battled some technical difficulties early in the set, but the crowd was too busy dancing and jumping around to notice or care.
As a rock fan, Sleigh Bells' live performance left me conflicted. Despite Miller's crunchy heavy metal power chords, they are indeed a pop group. Krauss and Miller perform as a duo. Their bombastic backing tracks are canned and piped through the p.a. from an off-stage source. Aside from Krauss' voice — more aggressive and slightly uneven due to her constant physical exertion — Sleigh Bells' live sound was almost exactly like that on their studio album, both a positive and negative. Miller and his axe aren't even on the stage for the whole set, as half their material lacks guitar. These moments, such as during "Rill Rill," when a solitary Krauss stalks the stage, don't differ much from karaoke.
Complaints about their musical methodology aside, a Sleigh Bells set is pure, unadulterated fun. Looking out from my balcony perch, I saw the crowd's enthusiasm detonate during the final, ear-destroying verse of "Infinity Guitars," igniting an explosion of jumping and noise. The band shuffled through most of their excellent debut album Treats in about 40 minutes, leaving the audience looking around for the truck that just ran them over.
More photos by Drunkcamera guy