By Sam Jacobs
Battles, a trio of musicians consisting of drummer John Stannier and guitarists Dave Konopka and Ian Williams, creates sounds that are hard to define. “Rock” simply doesn’t suffice.
Technically, their genre is math rock – a type of music that changes rhythm so quickly it’s sometimes hard to keep up. It feels like you are in a racecar, going 100 mph but making sharp turns every few seconds.
Battles May 5 show at the Crocodile show was upbeat, incredibly fast-paced and just fantastic. They even gave us a preview of their new album, Gloss Drop, which will be released in June.
Gloss Drop marks the first Battles album created sans Tyondai Braxton, the band’s former lead singer who left in August for a solo career. It was clear the band has accepted his departure, though, as they did not play a single song from their Mirrored album or subsequent EPs.
To replace Braxton, Battles uses guest singers to accommodate their wild noises. These guests didn’t come on tour, but instead flowed in and out of the show via two video screens. One vocal bit from each song that was sampled and looped to each artist solemnly singing to the crowd.
This effect worked best with “Sweetie and Shag,” featuring Blonde Redhead’s Kazo Makino and “Ice Cream” featuring Matias Aguayo.
The show began with “Africastle,” a song that slowly builds into the rhythm that defines the free flowing Gloss Drop.
In fact, there were only two times throughout their performance where there wasn’t any music playing. The first when Dave Konopka accidently kicked out a sound cord and the other was after their show, before the encore. “Ice Cream” clearly got the crowd into a fantastic groove that didn’t seem to end until the encore song “Sundome.”
Drummer John Stanier stole the show with his powerful and hypnotizing rhythm. I swear his drumsticks much have been toothpicks by the end of the night. Mix this vibrant and emotional atmosphere with a perfectly sized venue like the Crocodile Café and it’s hard not to walk out of the joint with a smile on your face and your ears ringing in the best way possible.