Gear heads

Battles, Paradise, July 18, 2007
By WILL SPITZ  |  July 24, 2007

VIDEO: Watch the Battles live at Paradise, July 18, 2007.

Slideshow: Battle at Paradise, July 18, 2007
In May 2005 I went to the Paradise to see Prefuse 73. I don’t remember much about the show, but I do recall the openers — some band with a mountain of gear and an arsenal of brain-bending rhythms who called themselves Battles — decidedly blowing Scott Herren and his band out of the water. The club was half full at best, but two years later, with everyone from the New Yorker and the Guardian to Pitchfork and Stylus and their grandmas (yours truly included) waxing orgasmic about the band’s new debut full-length, Mirrored (Warp), the same room was uncomfortably crowded for their headlining set last Wednesday.

Given all the hype, the strength of Mirrored, and my own faded memory of that 2005 show — I missed them when they played Great Scott in April — my expectations were high. Maybe too high. Because, though they successfully replicated the mindfuck complexities of the album, I left disappointed. It was impressive for sure: four guys creating a mini-orchestra’s worth of sound in front of our eyes — without the aid of samples, as guitarist/bassist Dave Konopka proudly informed me in an interview a month ago. Instead they used looping effects and Ian Williams and Tyondai Braxton’s nifty simultaneous guitar/keys technique to build heavily-layered, intricate sonic tapestries that sounded remarkably similar to those on the album. But with the band spending as much time futzing around with knobs as they did showing any evident engagement with the music, the whole thing seemed a bit clinical. With the exception of Mirrored’s standout single, “Atlas,” where drummer John Stanier’s infectious schaffel beat made the whole room bounce, the show felt more like surgical observation than rock show — striking in execution but emotionally unaffecting.

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  Topics: Live Reviews , Dave Konopka, Ian Williams, John Stanier,  More more >
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