Battles has always been an enigmatic band. The math rock ensemble from New York has pushed the limits of experimental music since their earliest releases. Since former vocalist Tyondai Braxton left the band just before the release of their last album, the ensemble has been searching for a stable idiom to inhabit both in the studio and on stage. With the release of La Di Da Di last month, Battles has found this sound. On Thursday night they showed that they have the performance chops to match. The cover of La Di Da Di is a new Nordic plating of what appears to be a breakfast for at least three people. Generally this style of serving food is related to a small portion of something highly refined. Here we see the contrast between refined presentation and absurd quantity. The juxtaposition works perfectly in terms of the record. These songs are densely layered explorations of multiple musical modes that sound elegantly effortless. When Battles took the stage at Republic they showed just how in sync with their process they truly are as a band. Dave Konopka was first on stage. He opened the show by laying down the initial loops for opening track "Dot Com." He was followed by Ian Williams who took up his guitar and settled into position between two keyboards angled toward him on either side. Once his loops were in place, John Stanier literally burst on the scene with fantastic crash of drums. The build of the music, combined with the anticipation of the appreciative crowd was ideal. From this initial burst, the energy did not flag. We were treated to an extended set that flipped between carefully choreographed rock and playful improvisation. Battles has managed to capture the swing of excellent free jazz within the math rock soundscape. You cannot ask for a headier evening of music.
Battles was preceded on stage by Brooklyn-based duo Buke and Gase, who for their part walk the line between fantastic discord and ecstatic harmony. The pair uses homemade and heavily modified instruments to produce sounds that are familiar enough but always slightly uncanny. Overall they provided a great sonic warmup for the show that was to follow. I look forward to their upcoming releases.
To Do This Week
Tonight the Dirty Ghosts will be at Siberia for an early show. Don’t miss this one, this is indie pop/punk at its best. Friday at Tips the only band capable of playing an honest tribute to Raw Oyster Cult will take the stage at 10 p.m. (it’s Raw Oyster Cult). On Saturday indie prog rockers Dopapod will be at Tips. We’ll be giving away tickets to this excellent show via Facebook later today. On Sunday the absolutely iconic Gang of Four will be at Tips. If you have any interest in what indie music is now, it all started here.
To Listen This Week
- New track from SBTRKT via Soundcloud
- Bob Dylan shared an unreleased version of “Subterranean Homesick Blues” via CoS
- Youth Lagoon covers Sundays “Here’s Where the Story Ends” via Youtube