The UnRecorded | Live Music: Yeasayer, Sleigh Bells, Chandeliers at Metro
Posted on May 06, 2010 by Greg
Yeasayer, Sleigh Bells and Chandeliers
at Metro, Chicago 4-29-2010
As I’m biking home from work, I get a call from Margaret… Yeasayer tweeted a giveaway pair of guest passes to their sold out show at Metro, and she was the first to answer, so suddenly, at 7:15pm, we have tickets to a 9pm show on the other side of town. Fine by me. We do a quick turnaround and head up to Metro on a balmy, beautiful Chicago spring evening.
When Chandeliers comes on a little after 9, Metro is already about 2/3rd full, which is saying something for an opening-opening band. Their site just lists the names (Scott McGaughey, Chris Kalis, Dan Jugle, Harry Brenner) and not the instruments, which is probably because they almost all play keys (I counted at least four keyboards.) They do have a drummer, but he plays mainly electronic drums on a tiny kit. They were a very unpretentious, focused group; almost no singing, mostly staring down at the keys and playing intently. Not Shoegaze… I’ll call it Keygaze. They aren’t really my cuppa, but they are all very talented Chicago guys who play freeflowing electronic compositions punctuated by drums and effects, so if that heats your skillet, I’d urge you to check them out.
Chandeliers finishes, and Metro is now a sweaty zoo of humanity that suddenly goes nuts when Sleigh Bells comes out. SB is just two people; Derek Miller (guitar) and Alexis Krauss (vocals) performing with prerecorded backing music. He wears a hoodie and plays bursts of distorted guitar, she twirls around and shouts into the mic. It has the fun feel of a couple of kids playing in their parents’ basement for friends. They’re definitely enjoying themselves, and so is the crowd: girls have girl crushes on Krauss, guys have guy crushes on her, and the people with giant cameras in the pit flock around her with the manic intensity of those seagulls in Finding Nemo.
The music is nothing too revolutionary; SB liberally samples other bands, and sounds like a fusion of The White Stripes and M.I.A., but Miller can really rip on the strings, and Krauss is a born frontwoman: you’d never guess she’s a former gradeschoolteacher. I just wish they had a full band. Maybe that would kill the vibe they have together, but I’d be interested to see where it might take them.
Yeasayer comes on after 11pm and the already potent weed smell in the crowd instantly gets stronger with their arrival. They have five members on stage tonight: lead singer Chris Keating, bassist/vocalist Ira Wolf Tuton, guitarist/vocalist Anand Wilder, Ahmed Gallab and Jason Trammell. Keating takes the lead on most of the songs, but I can’t help noticing that many of the tunes that get the crowd screaming the most are sung by Wilder. That and Wilder’s solid guitar work garner a lot of notice for the shyer of the two vocalists. Keating commands the stage well, pulling off a kind of low-key strut during the songs and confidently chatting with the crowd between. Turns out he used to live just down the road from Metro before moving to Brooklyn, indie rock’s current Monster Island.
I was a fan of Yeasayer’s first record, the moody, mystical, prog-leaning All Hour Cymbals, and was a little thrown when they pretty radically changed their sound for 2010’s Odd Blood album, which is very 80s: think New Order, Erasure, Tears for Fears, Human League. I’m not as crazy about the new sound. There are some very danceable tunes on the record, but I’m a terrible dancer, so… It is always good to see a young band evolving and trying new things; I just hope they won’t set up shop in the 80s for good. I seem to be in the minority though; the new songs go over just as well as the old ones.
They end the show with a ten-minute encore that caps off with a fantastic version of “Sunrise,” one of the best tracks from their first album. A nice end to a surprise evening of free music.
–Greg from The UnCool
All images Copyright The UnCool 2010. All rights reserved.
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