NYC’s own volatile arsenal trio Battles returned to their hometown to unleash the full power of their newly-released third album La Di Da Di. They always manage to amaze when they bring their unique combination of dense electronic and high capacity art rock to the stage and this show was a beautiful vantage point of a war, in style and composition.
Brooklyn’s own Xenia Rubinos turned out to be an ideal opening to the grand fracas with her own drum-heavy electronica mixed with generous amounts of soul and pop. Rubinos draws from a wide range of influences from Caribbean rhythms to catchy indie rock, and she does it all with an engaging and charismatic stage persona.
Amid some heavy clouds of illicit smoke wafting from the packed floor, the band emerged one by one and laid out their war plans for all to see. Seeing them really build a song and then in turn destroy their grand compositions face-to-face is why their music really blossoms on stage in comparison to just listening to their often slickly produced studio material. Guitarist/ bassist Dave Konopka (formerly of the band Lynx) emerged first; stooping over his massive armada of floor synths, knobs, and petals in total concentration like the master tactician he is, taking over the first several minutes to construct a thick and glorious soundscape for the melee to be waged upon. He is then followed by guitarist/ keyboardist Ian Williams who seemingly materialized in a cloud of smoke like a wizard on the battlefield to build upon that surreal cloud with a magical brew of swirling electronic psychedelia from his board combined with some witchy and airy axe noise. Finally, drummer John Stanier (formerly of Helmet) emerges to kick the tune “Dot Net” into full gear with his raw edged stick work, even banging on that one iconic cymbal of his hanging high in air that gets drawn into the conflict for that far away explosion sound.
All together, the band always brought it together flawlessly, and the new material did grow on me more, feeling a bit less clinical than my first couple listens. The bright explosive nature of their digital landscape matched quite nicely with their raw instrumental presence in a brilliant push and pull. Previous songs like “Ice Cream” sounded even groovier and catchier than I had heard before, and their epic closer of “Atlas” from 2007’s Mirrored felt as though you were being carried through the clouds to Valhalla, and may very well have been one of the best things I had ever heard them play on stage. This show may have felt like one truly epic war of cyborg supremacy against the magicians of acoustic instrument kings, but it all flowed together so fluidly you couldn’t help but dance away over the ashes of the destruction they had brought in their wake.
Article: Dean Keim