SAN FRANCISCO — Noise pop duo Sleigh Bells are having a rough release week. Fourth album Jessica Rabbit dropped last Friday, and shortly after, vocalist Alexis Krauss came down with laryngitis. That forced Krauss and guitarist Derek E. Miller to cancel a festival appearance and the first of two shows in San Francisco.
To accommodate fans, the second show was quickly moved from the Independent to the larger Mezzanine. And while Krauss gave it her all and thanked fans profusely for bearing with the last-minute cancellation and changes, she probably could have used one more day to rest her voice, which couldn’t quite stay on top of the band’s eardrum-bursting guitar screeches and rapid-fire percussion. And despite now having four albums to their name, Sleigh Bells performed for just about an hour Wednesday.
There were plenty of positives, too, like Krauss’ energy. Even while sick, she knows how to work a room, at various times stepping into the crowd, sticking her microphone into fans’ faces and even falling backward onto the crowd. For the entire hour, she didn’t remain still for more than two seconds. The trio played in front of several stacks of Marshall amps and set against numerous seizure-inducing strobe lights. The show also had strong pacing. Their were no lulls, but Krauss, the only one who addressed the crowd, kept fans engaged between songs. None of the tracks were longer than three-and-a-half minutes, which kept the brisk tempo.
Krauss, Miller and a second guitarist blew through a 16-song set that included material new and old. Unsurprisingly, the fans reacted best to songs off 2010 debut Treats. They kicked off the show with that album’s “Tell ‘Em,” and sprinkled in “A/B Machines,” “Crown on the Ground,” “Infinity Guitars,” “Riot Rhythm” and “Kids.” The new album was represented by “It’s Just Us Now,” “I Can Only Stare,” “Rule Number One” and “Throw Me Down The Stairs.” As Krauss and Miller rev up their touring machine, expect the band return to the Bay Area, playing more songs from their new album.
Wednesday’s show was opened by Los Angeles garage-punk quartet The Regrettes. The four range in age from their mid-teens to just 19, but the only evidence of just how young they are was the obvious fun they were having on stage (and that’s not a knock). The buzzy band has been lumped into the pop-punk genre, but they’re more punk than pop, have an edge of grunge, and their punk leans not toward Green Day or the Offspring, but toward ’60s garage rockers The Sonics.
The Regrettes played several released songs, highlighted by the sophisticated, mature “A Living Human Girl,” and several new tracks that are likely to be featured on their forthcoming debut album, which will be released in January. Midway through the set, the band celebrated drummer Maxx Morando’s 18th birthday with Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Singer-guitarist Lydia Night led the crowd in a Happy Birthday sing-along, mentioning that the drummer is now “legal.”