music The Battles show on the night of June 13 saw both familiar local characters as well as fresh faces from nearby metropolises like Richmond and Lynchburg. The span of ages was also wide, ranging from the eager high schoolers who perched front-and-center to the drunken 40-something with a tweed jacket and unnecessary sunglasses atop his slicked back hair.
Whatever hometown or age, the crowd was there to see some smart, talented rock music, and got what they came for. Ostinato, recently returned from a trans-European trek, tossed down a hard-hitting set. Drummer Matthew Clark and bassist Jeremy Ramirez propelled the evening into high gear, and David Hennessy got things off the ground with his spacious guitar work. The trio’s mostly instrumental epics provided a perfect liftoff for the night.
Ostinato’s Jeremy Ramirez drove the local band’s set at the Satellite Ballroom, where they opened for the brilliant-if-late Battles.
Due to their late arrival, Battles took the stage and ran through a mid-show sound check. Though some of the night’s momentum dropped during this unplanned intermission, it gave the crowd time to gawk at the band’s astounding set-up: An ominous mountain of amps backed a vast landscape of pedals, laptops and knobs. The members stood over it like titans prepared to shake the countryside.
Battles are titans indeed, consisting of former members of seminal rock bands Don Caballero and Helmet, as well as Tyondai Braxton, the son of renowned jazz saxophonist Anthony Braxton. On the Ballroom stage they put this breadth of experience and talent to good use. Drummer John Stanier sat in the center and kept the complicated beats with robotic precision; around him, the other three members juggled guitars, keyboards and samplers like it was nothing. Braxton occasionally picked up the microphone, but his vocals were rarely lyrical, instead melting into the group’s complex and calculated combo of rhythm and melody.
While Mirrored, their first full-length, is solid, and the video for the single “Atlas” is quite a sight, Battles were even more impressive live. And with Wednesday’s show as only the first date of a massive three-month tour, they will only get better.