Battles / Ponytail @ Doug Fir, 3-July-2007


Wow. Last night’s show by Battles convinced me. The CDs are good, but the experience live is a bit different. Drums placed front and center, with guitar/keyboard guys on either side, bass player hanging out in back. Seems like each guy can do his own looping as needed, and the sometime vocals are generally heavily processed. But as with most great bands, it’s the drummer that’s holding the groove together.

It’s a loud, intense & tense sound, with some very tight, complex rhythms. They immerse you in a sound world, and it feels like you’re locked in it as long as they’ll keep it going; but often they change gears after a minute or so. The last time I can remember a band with such a fierce attack was Gang of Four way back in 1980 when they first came to the states, Hugo Burnham on drums. I’d say Battles has a similar barrage, augmented for 2007 with electronics.

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