Live Review: Battles at Slim’s
The sun has been staying around longer these days, and the juxtaposition between the dark edgy scenesters lined up in front of Slim’s against the pretty sunset was something to behold. As I got close to the door I heard a terrible scream from the opening band and I was a little unsure of what I was about to get into. The last show I saw was Feist and Grizzly Bear at the Filmore, and the scene is night and day. The Feist show looked adult contemporary by comparison. Multiple tattoos seem to be a requisite for this show, and I saw quite a few Mohawks, not faux-hawks mind you. Real Mohawks. Opening act The Pony Tails have an incredible band, but the lead singer is intolerable. She screams a terrible scream. I loved the band’s multi-layered guitars and wild drums, and wish they would go the route of headliner Battles and lose the singing almost all together. The instrumentals were going to waste with her wail.
Before Battles came out the audience was treated to some Speed Racer and Looney Tunes cartoons on a projector. Damn those Looney Tunes still get me. They showed my all-time favorite where Bugs plays the maestro and his enemy is an opera singer or something. I was laughing and the sound wasn’t on.
Wikipedia classifies Battles as “math rock” and I can see why that works. Their music is precise, dense, and almost disconnected from human feelings. Feelings are devoid, but not emotion. When the band is in full blast, two guys are playing guitar and keyboards at the same time, their drummer is going nuts, and their bass player is one of the best I’ve seen. On “Tonto,” from their latest release Mirrored, the band starts with a rolling bassline that builds momentum and drives the track, and the rest of the guys add chaos (order?), including some pretty sweet live recording vocal samples. The crowd was really into it, and it felt more akin to seeing a big name DJ than a rock show. Songs off the new album got a great response especially “Atlas.” I’m not sure if Battles are for everyone, and if you’re breaking up with your lady this isn’t the band for you. But if you need some edgy soundtrack music to walk the streets to and feel pretty cool about yourself, or are in a car chase, Battles are for you.