Review: Jakob Battick and Friends

At Slainte on April 9, 2010
By BRYAN BRUCHMAN  |  April 14, 2010

Still a work in progress, the newly expanded Slainte stage area (walls busted down, but sightline-killing pillars still intact) has seen vast improvement in recent weeks. According to owner Ian Farnsworth, a dance floor, stage lighting (finally!), and proper sound setup are all on the way. This fresh real estate for performers and audience members alike works wonders, as for a seated show chairs can be pulled right up to the “stage,” while couch-dwellers can stay toward the front of the venue and keep their conversations (or heated matches of Apples To Apples) going without being too disruptive. For Burlington’s Seth Gallant’s opening set — think Bon Iver with more of a penchant for rock and roll noise — this worked well, with enough of the audience being attentive while the regulars could talk without detracting much from the show.

For this occasion, Jakob Battick had three Friends in tow, setting up in a line adjacent to the kitchen — and 75 percent in full view of the audience now (up from what would have been about 50 percent pre-sledgehammer). Lacking a drummer for the night, the band made do with bass, guitars, accordion, and some trumpet. Music as recorded on the new EP, Heavy the Mountains, Heavy are the Seas suffered little from the adapted arrangements, as the drums found there are sparse at most. The crowd was thin, but those who paid attention were fully consumed by the haunting waves of delayed guitars and vocals that filled the room — especially during a stunningly dreamlike rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire.” Battick’s sound is developing at an alarming rate, getting bigger and darker with each move. Though still a young musician, it’s clear that the prolific songwriter has a lot of musical ideas inside him that will manifest publicly in the coming years.

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