by Lisa Joan Barrett
A big band like Sleigh Bells in a small room like El Club? It was a match made in heaven.
Sleigh Bells has been to this spot in Southwest Detroit a few times in recent years, this time touring in support of their 2017 mini-album, Kid Kruschev. Ypsilanti duo JUNGLEFOWL opened the show with their own brand of dirty, garage rock. Melissa Coppola sings while drumming ferociously which turns them into a more dynamic version of The White Stripes with her husband Stefan Carr as the gritty lead guitar. His tone was wonderful, almost like a bass. JUNGLEFOWL covered Bjork’s “Army of Me” very convincingly, bringing a dark intensity I was not expecting. Not just any band can pull that off. I loved seeing a local band opening this show and they took full advantage of the crowd, getting us to sing along with their last song.
El Club is a really intimate space for Sleigh Bells, whose music I consider to be arena-sized, and the frenetic light show coupled with the wall of incredible sound really made it a thrilling spectacle. The Sleigh Bells lineup of Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss were joined by their tour guitarist Jason Boyer, who provided a worthy counterpoint to Miller’s thrashing power chords.
Krauss announced early on in their set that the band was not feeling 100%, but they didn’t want to cancel the show because they really loved Detroit. If she didn’t tell us that, we might not have noticed, because her infectious dancing while performing was just as vibrant as usual. The backing track seemed to cover for any vocal trouble she had. When the going got too tough (specifically the Kid Kruschev track “Rainmaker”), she brought help onstage in the form of Tunde Olaniran, a Michigan native who toured in 2016 with the band. This is my favorite song on the album and I am a huge fan of Olaniran, so I was delighted to see them together performing it. It is extra fun to see something that may never come together like that again, their energy was fantastic. Thankfully, I snagged some video. From there, “Demons” and “Crown On the Ground” were definite highlights for me, both songs whipped the crowd up thoroughly with Miller’s soaring guitar riffs. There were so many hands in the air, it was hard to even see the stage!
Sleigh Bells ended with a Krauss solo on “Rill Rill,” where she invited spectators onstage to dance with her. In retrospect, even though the band was a bit under the weather, Detroit was very lucky to get this show. Get well soon, Sleigh Bells!
Photos by Greg Aubry
Blue Trash Mattress Fire
I Can Only Stare
Crown On The Ground