By Cody Goodfellow
History may record that the best thing MIA ever did was to plug Sleigh Bells, who do everything MIA is supposed to do, with ten times the style and none of the bullshit. Heralded by a thunderous intro from Black Sabbath's Iron Man, the much-hyped Brooklyn duo took the stage before an iconic wall of Marshall amps with the hubris cranked to eleven. And why not? Not many new acts get invited back to Coachella two years in a row.
A guy and a girl and a drum machine shouldn't sound louder than Ministry or hotter than Rihanna, but they pulled it off. Building on simple beatbox standards, metal hooks and girl-rap formulas, this could've been a bigger joke than Die Antwoord. But Sleigh Bells didn't come to pose, they came to work, hammering out almost all of the songs from their debut album Treats. With his vocals buried under the mix and his feet nailed to the stage, Derek Miller was a sphinx in denim jeans and jacket, looking like Martin Sheen in Badlands, wielding his guitar like a chainsaw. He didn't have to do anything else, because Alexis Krauss owned the crowd. She wore a Bells basketball jersey and black Dickies, but she didn't need to dress up or strip or play the clown. Her confidence and command was total as she went from babydoll raps to slasher movie scream queen caterwauling without dropping a stitch. For all his grinding power, Miller was on a leash, and Krauss was the one holding it. By the set's end, she came down into the crowd to meet the fans while rapping on the set-capper "Rill Rill," she had all of us on the same leash.
Photo credit: Last.fm