Live Pop: School of Seven Bells at the Troubadour

School of Seven Bells
School of Seven Bells

by Dave Gebroe

In the universe of My Bloody Valentine disciples / rip-off artists, School of Seven Bells rates pretty high up there. Derivative it is, but this threesome wear their influences on their collective sleeve, and don’t seem to make claims to be something they’re not. Some may even argue that they go a step beyond the Valentine, seeing as this outfit boasts an eye-popping double dose of cooing Belinda Butchers.

Taking the stage on opposite sides like an erotic twist on the 7-10 split, Alejandra and Claudia Deheza stake their claim as identical twins with a presence. Opening with “Face To Face On High Places,” their deftest blend of poppy drone from debut record “Alpinisms,” they go and tear the roof off the sucker right out of the gate. Much of the set didn’t really deviate from this template, hewing to an oceanic roar of heavily processed guitar and programmed beats, all of which buoy the parakeet-like tweetings of the twins.

Throughout, a trippy melange of projections unspool endlessly—spacey fractals, celestial whooshings, and whatnot. If you’ve been to a rave, you know what I’m talking about.

School of Seven Bells could easily have wound up being a flat-out studio concoction, and fallen flat on their faces live. However, these women can sing. Much of the material felt inspired, and I couldn’t help but compare it to the cold, soulless Spiritualized performance I caught last year. Trippy can often be synonymous with “robotic” and “heartless,” but the band seems to be conscious enough of this trap to avoid most of the pitfalls.

If I had one criticism of the set, it’s that it started to feel a little monotonous after a half hour. When the band’s full-on sonic assault dropped away, as it did during third song “White Elephant Coat,” the music lost some of its charm. But this is a young band, and they’ve got a while to go yet. As long as they keep kicking great tunes like “Iamundernodisguise,” I’m all ears.

Photo: Amanda Merten

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