There are many cultural activities to enjoy in Edinburgh in August but thrash metal with a pop tinge is not usually one of the sounds that can be heard amongst the weird and wonderful art of the world famous Fringe festival. Perhaps that explains why the first Edinburgh show by US noise pop duo Sleigh Bells is so sparsely attended.
Despite the thin crowd, the duo of guitarist Derek E Miller and singer Alexis Krauss augmented by tour guitarist Jason Boyer attack their harsh and abrasive songs with vigorous intent. Krauss is the real centre of attention. Clad in leather jacket and hot pants she prowls the stage imploring the crowd to come to life.
Sleigh Bells' sound is based almost entirely around noise and beats and those corrosive and sometimes combustible elements provide the backbone of their set. It makes for a sometimes strange proposition. When they are at their most bludgeoning and powerful, as on a coruscating version of Infinity Guitars and the hip shaking thrash of Crown On The Ground they are compelling in the extreme. At other times the reliance on pre programmed beats means the two guitarists leave the stage giving free rein to Krauss. What once was an intense rock show gives way to a glorified club PA. These lulls in the set hinder the momentum of the show.
The highlights tonight are mainly taken from the duo's 2010 breakthrough LP Treats. The material aired from latest album Reign Of Terror is warmly received but lacks the vibrancy of the debut. Fortunately, the gig concludes with a closing run through of first LP highlights. Rill Rill features Krauss finally breaking the audience's resistance by singing the entire song encamped in the front row. Closing song A/B Machines offers perhaps the best example of Sleigh Bells direct charms as a brutalising riff reverberates around the room.
It must be maddeningly frustrating for a band to give so much in a performance and receive so little. Credit therefore to Sleigh Bells for managing to eventually shake the audience out of their resistance through the sheer force of their character and the power of their songs.