Live Review: Battles at the Granada Theater
24 October 2011
The divisive and expansive experimental rock group Battles, currently a three-member affair, know how to put on a good show. And Saturday night at the Granada Theater was no exception, as the band dug deep into their catalogue to please the diehard fans, while also touching base with every great single they have written.
I had never seen Battles before former singer Tyondai Braxton left the band in 2010, and really only got into them after their sophmore album Glass Drop hit the shelves earlier this year, so I left all expectations at the door. Watching their soundcheck gave me some insight as to what I should expect for the night, but even that only dabbled in the true aptitude the band exudes onstage in front of their fans.
The threesome made an amazing team on stage, with bassist Dave Konopka essentially playing the role maestro, guiding and assembling each song. But each member played a crucial part in the show. John Stanier’s drumming, an aggressive and perfect form which is nearly unrivaled in modern music, was something to behold. On tracks like “Africastle” or “Atlas,” all eyes descend upon Stanier, whose crash symbol placed eight feet in the air was a fundamental element to the band’s quirky stage presence.
With Konopka and guitarist Ian Williams juggling copious loops and synths at various angles in their stations on stage, the band never, ever left the pocket. They were the pocket. The symmetry of their compositions is sharp, and each edge was cut precisely where needed, all while creating thick, riff-based grooves that kept fans’ heads nodding. Not to mention they featured some insanely awesome guest vocals, like Kazu Makino of Blonde Redhead and Gary Numan of The Cars, which were incorporated by projecting extreme close-up footage on the 2 large screens behind their set.
Battles should be praised for their pitch perfect live performance of tracks like “Ice Cream,” “Tonto,” or “Futura” – no small accomplishment as the studio arrangements are super complex in their own right. No member missed a note, save for some small technical difficulties, and no fan left unhappy.
They even had a little chat with the crowd after returning to the stage for an encore, which can be witnessed in the video posted below. With Konopka leading a “Fuck Saint Louis” chant after the embarrassing Ranger’s World Series loss that night, and the bassist proclaiming “We want to be inside of you!”, there was not a somber mood in the house.