Thursday, August 16 , 2018, 12:06 am | Fair 71º


Jeff Moehlis: Sleigh Bells Leaves Ears Ringing

Buzzed-about band plays it quick and loud at SOhO

Walking into the SOhO Restaurant & Music Club on Monday night, one was immediately struck by the sight of four(!) Marshall stacks onstage. Clearly the highly anticipated concert by Sleigh Bells was going to be loud. And it was. A bit too loud, in my opinion, but I didn’t hear anyone complaining afterward. Of course, maybe I just couldn’t hear anything at all.

Sleigh Bells took the stage to a thrashy speed metal guitar intro, then (pre-recorded) tolling bells led into the sonic onslaught of “Tell ‘Em,” the lead track from the band’s debut (and only) album, Treats, which has received much buzz, from the blogosphere to the so-called mainstream media.

When I say band, I mean Derek Miller on heavily distorted guitar courtesy of the aforementioned Marshall amps, bundle-of-energy Alexis Krauss on chirpy vocals and chants, and the pre-programmed backing tracks consisting of in-the-red, highly compressed, overdriven beats, which in concert were often synched with flashing lights. It may seem like an odd mix on paper (or when you read it on your computer screen), but it really does work when you hear it.

Next up was “Infinity Guitars,” with more heavy beats and chanted lyrics about ... well, I don’t know if it really matters. Sleigh Bells doesn’t seem overly concerned about lyrical depth. The next song, “A/B Machine,” just repeats the lyrics “Got my A machines on the table / Got my B machines in the drawer” over and over. It’s really all about the ginormous sound.

More songs followed with nary a pause, until they had played most of the tracks off Treats, plus the lesser-known B-side “Holly.” This included their catchiest song, “Rill Rill,” which loops a sample of “Can You Get to That” off Funkadelic’s mind-melting classic album Maggot Brain.

Missing in action (sorry, couldn’t resist — you may already know that Sleigh Bells are strongly affiliated with the artist M.I.A.) were the slightly more ambient tracks “Run the Heart” and “Rachel” from Treats.

With “Crown on the Ground,” the concert passed the 30-minute mark, and then it was over. This was a bit of a shock to the audience — myself included — which nevertheless applauded and whooped until Krauss returned to say, “I don’t mean to bum you out or anything, but how long’s our record? We don’t have any more songs.”

Since the backing tracks were all pre-programmed, there was no improv, no between-song banter and no slowing down. But while it lasted, it was definitely a wild — and very loud — ride.


Tell ‘Em
Infinity Guitars
A/B Machines
Riot Rhythm
Rill Rill
Straight As
Crown on the Ground

Noozhawk contributor Jeff Moehlis is an associate professor of mechanical engineering at UCSB. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his Web site,

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >