Report by Sandra Hurley
Photos by Micilin
Battles don’t sound like anybody else. Sure there are shades of the post-rock of Godspeed and the squelching sounds of other Warp labelmates, but the purveyors of so-called Math Rock are truly in a class of their own as they showed at the final Friday night River to River show. It was a fitting end to a surprisingly alternative season of bands including the National and Spoon who all brightened up the touristy Seaport playing under the stars and skyscrapers.
A clear, beautiful night created the perfect atmosphere for the hometown band who told the capacity crowd they were happy to be back after the relentless round of the European festival circuit. Unlike other bands who skirt the electronic / rock axis, Battles shine live by refusing to hide behind the gadgetry of their sound. It’s a rampant, energetic show as they jump around while programming the distorted vocals and looped samples which mellow the hard rock edge of the songs on their album Mirrored.
That’s not to say a Battles gig isn’t all about those pounding drums beaten by ex-Helmet member John Stanier. He sits centre-stage, occasionally reaching up to hit an extremely high hi-hat. Around the drums, sit the guitar swirls of Ian Williams, Dave Konopka and Tyondi Braxton.
Inevitably, the highlight is Atlas, the monumental 6 minute single. And when it came towards the end of the set, the crowd surged forward nearly toppling over the barriers at the front.
In amongst those album and ep tracks, there were some new songs all boding well for the next Battles record – due by the end of the year. And hopefully, next year’s River to River schedule will be as good.
Deerhunter opened but their take on early 90s shoegazing rarely lifted beyond the ordinary. Lots of people love them because they’re on Kranky records but it paled next to the inventiveness of Battles.
But it seems Deerhunter don’t take kindly to bad reviews, check out this exchange on the band’s website with an unfortunate writer for LA Weekly: