Scene :: Battles :: 03.24.07 @ Local 506

I don’t know that I’ve ever written a show review before, so please bear with me, and we’ll get through it together. I wasn’t taking notes or anything (something I might have to start doing in the future) so it’s very likely that I don’t remember the songs in the exact order that they were played or even the exact titles (but with a band who occasionally name songs things like ‘Tras,’ ‘Tras 2,’ and ‘Tras 3,’ you can see where that would get difficult anyway). Also, let’s see if I can try and keep the gushing to a minimum.

I drove up to Chapel Hill on Saturday with some friends for the Battles show at Local 506. It was my first time back to Chapel Hill in a good while, and my first time seeing a show at Local 506, which I found to be a fun little dive venue. As I’ve mentioned before, I saw Battles a year or so ago in Columbia (a show that I’ve since heard referred to as ‘legendary’ by both people who were there and people who just heard about it through the grapevine). I’ve also been listening to an advanced copy of the upcoming Battles full-length debut Mirrored at an almost obsessive level for about a month. So to say that this was a highly anticipated show for me would be a grand understatement. Luckily, it actually exceeded my expectations.

The stage set-up was almost exactly as I remembered it from before. Keyboards, guitars, a winding, countless tangle of wires, Mac laptops (two this time!), and that drum kit with the one cymbal propped high above the stage so that drummer John Stainer has to nearly stand every time he hits it.

The band opened with ‘Tij,’ one of my favorites off the new album. ‘Singer’/guitarist/keyboardist Tyondai Braxton breathed oddly into his mic, looping it to create a bass beat for the other guitarists Ian Williams and Dave Konopka to build off of. From there, the band went on to do quite a few songs from the upcoming album including amazing album-opener ‘Race In,’ featuring some of the tightest drumming I’ve seen in my life, ‘Tonto,’ ‘Rainbow,’ and a blisteringly rocking version of the album’s first single ‘Atlas,’ which the crowd went wild over. I’m assuming that maybe only half the people in the audience had heard the track since it hasn’t been released and has only been available as a YouTube video and track streamed on Pitchfork and this humble blog. The crowd’s reaction solidified my opinion that ‘Atlas’ is an undeniably amazing track, perhaps the best (and certainly most accessible) song Battles has ever recorded.

The band closed with a slightly reworked version of either ‘Tras 2’ or ‘Tras 3’ (my vinyl copies of the B and C EPs are currently still packed up ‘cause I’m a procrastinator) that caused spontaneous dancing to erupt throughout the crowd. All in all, it was an incredible show, and I wonder if Battles are simply incapable of playing a show that’s not ‘legendary.’

Battles Atlas (Video Mix)

Buy Battles music here and check out the band’s MySpace page to see their upcoming tour dates so you can check them out for yourself.

I’ll update this entry with my crappy pictures of the show once I get them uploaded to my computer and try to make them look better.

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