Sleigh Bells at Mezzanine, by Ian Young
Sleigh Bells (photo: Ian Young)

When Sleigh Bells announced that they were cancelling their Tuesday night show at The Independent due to singer Alexis Krauss’ ongoing bout with laryngitis, the news was a double disappointment.

First, fans were deprived of seeing a hugely popular act in a small, cozy club, which is always a treat. And secondly, Krauss’ health problems meant that she wouldn’t be at full strength to belt out the tunes from Sleigh Bells’ latest album, Jessica Rabbit, a record that showcased the lead singer’s vocals acrobatics in a manner unheard of before from the group.

In hindsight, the move to reschedule the gig from The Independent to Mezzanine on Wednesday (which allowed fans from both scheduled Sleigh Bells shows at The Independent to attend) might have been a blessing in disguise. Derek Miller’s guitars — always loud as shit — seemed to be cranked up even beyond his normal 1,000-decibel levels, so hearing that din of noise in The Independent might have given everyone tinnitus.

As for Krauss, she proved that she’s truly a gamer — a fearless performer willing to give her entirety to the show, even when it was clear she was operating below 100 percent. Apologizing profusely to the crowd for the cancellation on Tuesday, Krauss couldn’t quite hit all the high notes required from the challenging tunes on Jessica Rabbit, but she didn’t let that diminish her enthusiasm. Encouraging the crowd to help her out by singing along to each track, Krauss was a manic ball of energy, caterwauling across the stage, climbing up on amps, and even engaging in a little crowdsurfing.

On some tunes from Jessica Rabbit, like “I Can Only Stare,” she managed to reach the impressive vocal heights from the studio sound. Others like “It’s Just Us Now,” and “Throw Me Down The Stairs” were more of a reach, with Krauss not quite able to bellow out the notes she so powerfully displays on the album.

The band was at their best while playing the songs from their beloved first album, Treats. Whether it was the crowd chanting the cheeky refrain to “Kids” (Did I forget my sunglasses? / Nope. Got 'em!), to nearly tearing off the roof of the place for “Infinity Guitars,” Krauss and Miller found their sweet spot with tracks from their debut. It was during “Crown on the Ground,” which closed out their set, that Krauss fell backward into the crowd, which then dutifully lifted her back on stage.

In reality, it made sense that the band relied so heavily on Treats, an album filled with ridiculously blown-out guitar riffs and stomping drum machine beats. Sheltered by Miller’s cacophonous guitar — each riff feeling like a punch to the heart, head, and throat — Krauss could shift her focus to amping up the crowd. For each call from Krauss, the response was immediate — hands raised, frantic dancing, encouraging shout-outs. The attendees at Mezzanine were certainly game to assist their wounded leader.

By the time the duo (and their touring guitarist) returned for their encore, Krauss looked visibly spent, breathing heavily as she resolutely fought off her ailment. She had a little left in the tank for “Rule Number One,” but the band wisely closed with “A/B Machines,” a funky, distorted electronica number from Treats that required little heavy lifting from Krauss.

As expected — and for legitimate reasons — the set was far from perfect. Krauss just didn’t have her “A” game material vocally. Still, this performance was more about spirit than ability, and the former was on display in spades on Wednesday.

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