Sleigh Bells, Araabmuzik

On Thursday, Sleigh Bells and AraabMuzik performed in Athens for the first time. Most of what I knew about AraabMuzik concerned his proficiency with a specific sampler, and his irritation that Kanye West jacked his swag for a performance of his song “Runaway.†Sleigh Bells was the type of band I was both excited and mildly afraid to see live. I’ve loved the band since the first EPs, but I suspected that its treble-heavy attack and vocal stylings might not translate live. As the raucous Georgia Theatre crowd attested, these fears were for naught.

AraabMuzik began the show in a less than ideal position. The Theatre’s early showtime did not play to the strengths of AraabMuzik’s high-energy style, and the crowd had not reached an appropriate level of enthusiasm. The DJ hammered proficiently away at his MPC, triggering dozens of different samples while his killer hype man did his thing. He clearly puts more labor in to the performance of his DJ set than most laptop impresarios, and on most nights he would have crushed it, as it were. This night, however, clearly belonged to Sleigh Bells.

The bandmembers emerged amongst a cloak of smoke in front of a massive stage set up of fake Marshall stacks. From the opening chords of “Demons,†Sleigh Bells showed how surprisingly deep its two-album catalog went. For a band that plays a lot of shows with non-rock bands and refuses to have a live drummer, Sleigh Bells rocks pretty hard, with a stageshow that would make Motley Crue proud. The Marshalls lit up with an elaborate display, and you would think that guitarist Derek Miller was playing a wireless guitar given the amount of movement on stage. The electronic drums sounded surprisingly good, and the bass was… completely missing. Sleigh Bells added a bassist for this album cycle, and maybe he’s being hazed or something, because he was not in the mix at all. (EDITOR’S NOTE: No bass on stage. Two guitars. Our bad.)

By the second half of the set girls were getting on stage and dancing, and the band was giving away used t-shirts. The three-song encore received excited applause, and singer Alexis Krauss left with some kind parting words, noting that Atlanta sucked, and they would be back. Amen.