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Coachella 2010: Sleigh Bells revives rap metal (for the better)

April 16, 2010 |  5:33 pm


Ponder this: A band that could non-inaccurately be described as a rap-metal version of Ke$ha just played the most searing set of Friday afternoon.

Sleigh Bells is a New York duo built on oversexed white-girl rhymes, metalcore guitar riffs and redlining 808 drum beats. One of its members played in the Floridian pierced-lip battalion Poison the Well. They have every reason to be, let's say, abrasive.

But somehow all of their deeply unsubtle influences pull together in a weird way that makes them the Platonic ideal of a pan-cultural party band circa right now. A lot of this is due to producer-guitarist Derek Miller, who cracked the very fraught code of how power chords sonically interlock with samples and still leave room to breathe (or, in the case of the full-to-bursting Gobi tent, grind on anything that moves). Singer Alexis Krauss remained an absolute firecracker despite her raging sunburn: She's a nimble rapper (Sleigh Bells' debut album will come out in May on M.I.A.'s imprint N.E.E.T.), a fine falsettist and unafraid to peel off a banshee wail that Miller's old band might have envied.

Every anxious sound scratched and clawed its way to the front of the mix, but the clear winner was anyone within arms reach of a liquor shot or someone pretty to feel up. It was trashy, take-all-comers fun that also made the idea of "genre" feel as passe as a single day ticket.

-- August Brown

Photo: Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss make up the band Sleigh Bells and performed in the Gobi tent on day one of the three-day Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival, on the Empire Polo Club grounds in Indio, Ca., April 16, 2010. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times