I have been told that on their US tour, Sleigh Bells played all the same venues as The Kills. In Berlin, The Kills comfortably fill Columbiahalle. And Sleigh Bells? They couldn't sell out Festsaal tonight. We were astonished.
But what to do if you are used to big American concert venues and you end up at cozy Festsaal? Simple: try and turn Festsaal into just that - a professional concert house. A double-decker nightliner on Skalitzer Str. required a no-parking zone. A note forbidding all pictures and video filming greeted us at the entrance. Walky talky tech guys onstage. Security outside the backstage door. A rap CD instead of a local DJ starlet. The full works. It bordered on the ridiculous.
On the upside: a mellow, predominantly British audience, surprisingly small-built (as in hardly any tall people) and, I assume, big bar takings for Festsaal. A drink took 20 minutes of queuing.
When the band came on, they were accompanied by a lot of strobe lighting, which was utilised throughout the entire set. And that's the kind of band they are: a strobe light band. A rock chick (think 80s Nena) on vocals, two guys on metal guitars, a drum machine, and a whole lot of strobe lighting.
Musically, we are talking about a mix between Metallica and a slowed-down Crystal Castles with a hip hop beat. It sounds a little dated and reminds me of my crossover teenage years in the mid-nineties. The musical performance was not helped by an atrocious sound mix. Feeding back vocals, too much bass - the band's own sound personnel obviously struggled.
So what did I make of it all? It's fair to say it wasn't my cup of tea in the first place. But I never expected it to be this poor. Sure, the girl knows how to rock, and sure, people loved them. But really, with all the hype surrounding the band, I was hoping for something with more substance. Give these people Atari Teenage Riot. Let them taste real subversiveness. This commercial in-between just doesn't cut it for me.
I am writing this as the group is playing its encore and as I am leaving Festsaal.