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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Saturday, April 19, 2014

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Sleigh Bells' Alexis Krauss sings Wednesday night at Turner Hall.
Sleigh Bells' Alexis Krauss sings Wednesday night at Turner Hall. (Photo: CJ Foeckler)
The band returned to Milwaukee with material from their 2012 album, "Reign of Terror" as well as music from their previous release, "Treats."
The band returned to Milwaukee with material from their 2012 album, "Reign of Terror" as well as music from their previous release, "Treats." (Photo: CJ Foeckler)

Sleigh Bells stage a memorable return to Milwaukee

Two years ago, Sleigh Bells came to Milwaukee for a sold-out show at The Mad Planet, a venue that was far too small for their popularity. On Wednesday night, Sleigh Bells returned to the Brew City and performed at the larger Turner Hall Ballroom.

The duo behind Sleigh Bells, Alexis Krauss and Derek E. Miller, were joined by an additional guitarist for the tour. The band played in front of two giant sets of speakers and utilized a wide variety of lighting tricks, the most common of which was a strobe effect. Krauss, wearing a sleeveless shirt that cautioned "PARENTAL ADVISORY: Explicit Content," lived up to that warning by asking the crowd "How the f*ck are you doing tonight, Wisconsin!?"

Krauss also took time to look back at the memorable Mad Planet show from 2010, inquiring which fans in attendance had also made it to that show. "That was f*cking crazy! This one goes out to you guys, thanks for coming back!" That served as the introduction to "Comeback Kid," the single from their 2012 album, "Reign of Terror." While their 2010 show lasted just over a half hour, Sleigh Bells doubled that length on Wednesday, exhausting material from "Reign of Terror" and their previous release, "Treats."

Toward the end of the loud concert, one fan tossed a package of Pop Tarts on stage, which Krauss acknowledged with appreciation and indicated she would enjoy later. This bizarre moment was appropriate for a crowd composed of many of the area's hipsters. Also enhancing the unique atmosphere was a fan who brought two hula hoops into the Turner Hall Ballroom and utilized them for an impressive performance art-esque dance routine.

The final song of the evening was "A/B Machines," and Krauss made it a memorable closer by inviting female fans in the front row to join her on stage. As fans were pulled up, they immediately sprang to their feet to jump around and dance. As the song started to reach its conclusion, more fans snuck their way on to the stage, including a few fellas who looked very out of place. By the end, Sleigh Bells were joined by roughly 20-30 adoring fans who were cherishing this moment. Security started to try to rush these individuals off stage, but Krauss took control of the situation, exclaiming, "They're fine! They're fine!" and explaining that everyone was going to be cool and leave in an orderly fashion.

To their credit, the fans that joined Sleigh Bells for the last number did leave respectfully, with a few lingering to hug Krauss before departing. By the end of the night, ears might have been ringing and vision might have been slightly impaired, but Sleigh Bells delivered the kind of show their fans wanted.

The opening act for the evening was AraabMuzik, who rapidly created and altered beats on stage using an MPC at lightning speed. The beginning of AraabMuzik's set was marred by how ridiculously loud the speakers were. Obviously the volume is supposed to be loud for electronic music, but the first 20 minutes were almost unbearable to listen to. Thankfully adjustments were made to make the music a little bit quieter while not losing the impact of the music.

AraabMuzik was joined by rapper DukeDaGod, who sadly didn't contribute much as a hype man. Throughout AraabMuzik's set, DukeDaGod would occasionally chime in with "hands up" and most commonly, "yeah." DukeDaGod is a talented rapper, but his skill was not utilized which made his part in the performance redundant.

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