Wednesday night we went to see the double-header of Sleigh Bells and Cansei De Ser Sexy, and I'm sorry to report that Sleigh Bells is the first band in a long time where I've liked the record but hated the live show. Serioulsy, I lasted three songs and had to leave. It's hard to put my finger on it, but my feeling is that they were trying too hard. They're a two-piece—and often it's just the singer with a bunch of electronic music behind her—and so they tried to compensate for the lack of visual interest by drowning the stage in strobe lights to the point where you couldn't actually be sure that they were the musicians, even if you had a good idea what they looked like. They also opened with "Iron Man", which is the sort of thing I think you get to do if you have two good albums in a row. Just sayin'. The lead singer Alexis Krauss had a lot of energy and a great voice—like I said, I love the album—but with the overcompensation at her back, it fell flat.
But this was just me, of course. Most of the audience was going nuts. Of course, as Marc pointed out as we left, they went nuts when the pre-music shuffle had Van Halen's "Panama" in it, so they were up for anything.
My problem is that there's no reason for a two-piece to have to compensate for anything. I've heard their stripped-down early shows were amazing and I believe it. I've seen many variations on the two-piece for at least a decade, everything White Stripes-style drum-and-guitar rock music to stuff that's more like Sleigh Bells, where the sound is filled out with electronic music. It all works just fine; the stage show is about bringing a human element to it along with the dance party. I didn't get anything out of this show that I couldn't have gotten with Christmas lights and playing the record on my stereo, except maybe the splashes on my shoes from the generous amount of beverages that people were dropping on the ground for some reason.
It was all still worth it, because Cansei De Ser Sexy really is just one of the most fun bands you can see live. So I'm kicking off the Friday Genius Ten with a song of theirs. Leave yours in comments, thoughts on shows you've seen that just didn't work for you, or thoughts on anything at all. Open thread.
Original song: "Music Is My Hot Sex" by CSS.
1) "Back in Your Head" by Tegan and Sara
2) "Great DJ" by the Ting Tings
3) "Gold Lion" by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs
4) "Boyz" by MIA
5) "Lights & Music" by Cut Copy
6) "Ready For the Floor" by Hot Chip
7) "I'm Good. I'm Gone" by Lykke Li
8) "The Reeling" by Passion Pit
9) "We Used To Be Friends" by the Dandy Warhols
10) "Wolf Like Me" by TV on the Radio