I can't iterate enough my distaste for Webster Hall. They suck. The venue is disorganized, they keep lineups cryptic, the hall reeks of mold and stale beer, and, the sound there BLOWS. Did I mention it smells? Yeah? Ok. I don't care if it's an INSTITUTION, so was CBGBs, and they went the way of the Dodo because they were WAY past their prime. Webster Hall has been a lousy venue for a while now, and yet, bands keep playing there. I assume it's for some unknown financial reason, like the overhead is cheaper for moderately successful bands. That seems to be who plays there these days. Bands on the brink or bands that are big enough to sell out to a NY crowd, but not to a NJ crowd. Am I right? Ok, rant over. Now, on to what transpired.
The crowd was a lot younger than I am accustomed to... although, I must admit, I think I am getting to that age where I will be the oldest person up front at any show, singing along and dancing. I am not a "go to a concert just to sit in the rear of the theater and drink" type, which inevitably puts me up front with the enthusiastic youngins. I don't mind, really, it's just, a little sad for me to accept that I am getting OLDER. The crowds enthusiasm was welcome though, despite my self-loathing agist phobias. The pre-show music they were blasting was a satisfyingly ecclectic mix of late 80's and early 90's music. TLC, Nirvana, Guns-n-Roses, and Van Halen were the more memorable tracks being blasted out, with myself and all the little ones screaming out the words, for the sad truth was that this would be the closest to hearing those bands live that we'd ever get.
I wish I could say the same for Sleigh Bells. At first, I was along for the ride. They started the show by blasting Black Sabbath's "Iron Man", and while all the kids were screaming and thrashing I decided to do the same. It was fun and cathartic, but, as the show went on, I came to the realization that the rocking energy was coming from the crowd and NOT from Sleigh Bells. By the time I walked out of Webster Hall, I found myself mumbling, "I could'a stayed home, and just pressed play." The shift of talent was extreme. They were all gimmick and no substance. The wall of amps and the rack of guitars wheeled out during set up had given me a sense of hope. I knew that Sleigh Bells was only a 2-person operation, but, so's Death From Above 1979, and they fucking WAILED when I saw them open for Nine Inch Nails. So, it stood to reason that Sleigh Bells could wail too. I was sorely mistaken. Sadly, everything was a recording that they pumped through the speakers, and the girl Alexis Krauss, was barely doing what I would call singing.
|The Elusive Guitarist Derek|
What happened next for me was fascinating. Every foot that I walked further away from the stage, the more shallow Sleigh Bells sound became. In the front where I was it was pure noise pop blasting through oversize speakers where I could barely hear the "live" guitar and vocals. It was infectious and fun to rock out to, sure, but it was VERY temporary. As I walked to the back the entirely pre-recorded music seemed to go mute, and all you could hear was Alexis' vocals... and they were weak. The kids at the show seemed to really enjoy Sleigh Bells and CSS. CSS I got, for sure, because they were musicians with a strong female lead. As for Sleigh Bells, as much as I enjoyed their studio album, I wanted more "oomph" out of them live than what I got, which left me feeling overwhelmingly disappointed.
|"Singer" Alexis Krauss|
CSS is who you should be paying money to see, because, ultimately, humans put on a better show than computers any day.