Sleigh Bells / Sunflower Bean @ Granada Theater, Dallas, TX

Words and photos by Scott Rowe
It was quite cold when I pulled into Lower Greenville in Dallas, searching block by block for a parking spot.  It only took me two block to find a suitable spot, but it was raining heavily, so I sat in my car as a rare winter thunderstorm was taking place.  Lighting and thunder were in abundance, a somewhat perfect sign of things to come within the Granada Theater.  Yes, that's right, Sleigh Bells were in town and from last two times I've seen the band perform (both at Granada Theater), I knew what the night had in store.  Though the band has not released a full-length album since 2016's Jessica Rabbit, the duo did release an extended play titled Kid Kruschev in November 2017.  In support of this mini-album, the band plotted 17 dates for a short winter tour, and luckily for me, one of those being at the Granada in Dallas.

Opening the show was New York's Sunflower Bean, a fuzzy, lo-fo trio that sits somewhere between Beach Fossils and Best Coast, whom of which they opened for in 2016.  Lead singer and bassist, Julia Cumming, mentioned the beauty of the Granada Theater (a historic Art Deco movie house converted into a music venue) and how she dressed for the occasion, wearing a black dress and silver, David Bowie-inspired boots.  Despite all of the described beauty, Sunflower Bean's music was loud, driven, and fun to watch.  Cumming flailed back and forth, as their guitarist and vocalist, Nick Kivlen, was much more reserved, looking and performing much more like Bob Dylan than an indie rock guitarist.  But looks and showmanship aren't everything, their sound was tight and their performance was fantastic.

Sleigh Bells stepped on stage in front of their Marshall amp stacks while the backing track of "Blue Trash Mattress Fire" played.  The opening track from Kid Kruschev is not your typical Sleigh Bells track, it's much more subtle as it builds but never has the hard-hitting a-ha moment most of their classics have.  Singer Alexis Krauss spends most of her time behind  a back-facing light and her mic stand, something she rarely does during their performances.  While their opening track wasn't a swing for the fences, their second one certainly was.  "Riot Rhythm" is an oldie but a goodie, with Derek Miller and their touring guitarist's Jackson Guitars shredding through the Granada Theater as Krauss dances through the array of strobes.  This is where the lighting and thunder comparison comes to light, as the strobes and thunderous bass shakes the Granada, a feeling you'll have for the next hour (and beyond, honestly).

While the band does play four of the seven tracks from their latest release, they actually play more songs (5) from their debut album, Treats.  The hour-long set is a back to back head-banging, feet stomping good time, that barely gives you any time to catch your breath.  It's remarkable to think that Alexis and Derek both had the flu the week prior, as their set was energetic and powerful.  This is my third time to see Sleigh Bells, all at the Granada Theater, and I have yet to see a bad or subpar performance.  The band finishes their initial set with the crazed "Crown on the Ground", only to come back with a three-song encore including the erratic "A/B Machines" and the super chill "Rill Rill".  "Rill Rill" is the one chance the crowd gets to engage in a singalong that isn't drowned out by a backing track or guitars, a truly sublime track to end with in a set full of sonic blasts of sound.  All in all, it was an awesome show, something I've come to expect from these two.  Photos of the show are below:

Sunflower Bean
Sleigh Bells
Sleigh Bells / Sunflower Bean @ Granada Theater, Dallas, TX Sleigh Bells / Sunflower Bean @ Granada Theater, Dallas, TX Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on February 08, 2018 Rating: 5
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