Rough Trade East, London
At last, a foray out of my contemplative, tree-hugging reverie and back into gigland! Well, an in-store at Rough Trade's hipster eastie offspring in Brick Lane. I used to live in this 'hood earlier in the century, just as it was becoming achingly trendified. I still enjoy the odd visit, mostly to pick up bagels, but also to wander the cobblestones and gaze in the windows of shops that probably wouldn't allow me to darken their doors.
But, this jaunt was prompted by the appearance of Brooklyn noise-beats duo Sleigh Bells, whom I have played a little bit on my show. I have yet to hear the debut album, Treats, which prompted this visit to ye olde record store. And, given that much of their recorded work is highly produced, I wondered how it would translate live. As indeed, perhaps did they, because before the show, I bumped into vocalist Alexis Krauss wandering the aisles of the shop and she commented approvingly that the sound was much better than she expected. Off-stage she and bandmate Derek Miller were the model of polite, well-mannered young people (said to be in short supply nowadays)--both of them shook hands with me and Krauss offered a 120-watt smile, to boot.
Onstage they turned into raging rock beasts, with Krauss the epitome of RAWK frontwoman, complemented by Miller's choppy guitar playing. But, RAWK in a very, very good way--high energy, loud enough for ear plugs and with charisma to burn. She has the full range of poses and dance moves, as well. The only drawback was the limited "liveness" of the show, as all of the music, save Miller's guitar, came from a laptop. And when he left the stage for two or three songs, Krauss was effectively performing karaoke. But.... it's hard in the digital age to truly be live and it was a very enjoyable 35 minutes.
Afterward, the two glowing performers wandered the shop, wondering what the heck was going on, until they were ushered behind the counter to sign merchandise. Not having a copy of the record, I made my way out, back into the rain of a grey, rainswept London, bagel in hand.