Waging war onstage

Annie Zaleski

Battles’ music is the multivariable calculus of math rock; the warped syncopation and fractured keyboards on the quartet’s full-length debut, Mirrored, proves that. But judging from an hour-long Chicago show archived on YouTube (youtube.com/watch?v=3PbYLafK1OU), the group’s live experience takes place on an entirely different dimensional plane.

Each band member is entranced by the viscous grooves being created, nodding their heads and—in crazy-mechanized drummer John Stanier’s case—throwing their bodies into the geometric agitation and scabrous riffs. The macabre disco throbbing of “Atlas,” in particular, feels like the earth cracking open at the seams, a sweaty death-pogo toward the prog-rock apocalypse.

As a spectator, it’s impossible not to become as physically absorbed in the show as the band is, but a shorter clip of “Tonto” from a London gig (youtube.com/watch?v=EsQ10aut6oA) shows the hypnotic beauty in Battles’ music; for as mentally exhausting as its funk-jazz-electro-post-rock hybrid can be, the way the band approaches its craft live can be as graceful as ballet.

Battles > Saturday, 1 p.m., Snake Eyes Stage.

  • Get More Stories from Wed, Oct 24, 2007
Top of Story