Battles dropped another mindfuck of an album last year, the tripped out but entirely straightforward (in a bizarre way) indie math-rock of La Di Da Di. 3 albums in and they’re not only pushing the boundaries, but ignoring them completely. They lost their singer in the process of recording the album, but carried on anyway – because that’s just the type of guys they are. Drummer extraordinaire John Stanier (Helmet, Mark of Cain, Tomahawk) is still the backbone and beating heart of the group, and combined with guitarist Dave Konopka and keyboardist/guitarist Ian Williams they make a most impressive beast. Indeed, they were in jaw-dropping form tonight – many thanks to the Laneway crew for getting them out here for the festival tour.
The opening act were the similarly slightly off-kilter Making, local lads from Sydney. They managed to make quite an impression with their musicianship and song writing prowess. More thrashy than Battles (a slight dose of Rage Against The Machine), Making played like a headliner, always a sign of good things to come. Definitely an act to keep an eye on, they may find themselves on more than a few support slots this year.
Battles took to the stage with little fanfare and simply launched into over an hour long set of synth/electro/indie/math rock goodness. Seriously, how good are these guys? The bulk of tonights set dished out was from La Di Da Di, and it was devoured with glee. Launching into sparkly synth-driven new track Dot Com, Battles played with a manic but almost gentle intensity which was impossible to look away from.
The perplexing fusion funk of track Ice Cream was really quite something, as was the strangely magical joy of Futura from their album Gloss Drop. Its loopy crescendo’s and dancefloor friendly grooves are so god damn likeable. The relatively more straightforward rock of Tricentennial preceded a cracking triple track treat. The sleighbell rock of Tyne Wear was just plain fun before it segued into the demonic rock beast of Summer Simmer and threatened to tear the roof off the Manning Bar.
Keeping the momentum going was the propulsive pummelling power of Atlas. It was the clear favourite of the night and received a huge response – it’s almost dance metal beats blowing our collective minds. A perfect song to close out the main set before returning for an astounding encore – The Yabba, the opening track from La Di Da Di. It’s a mix of feedback, grunge keyboards, distorted guitars – difficult to decipher but deeply, damn cool.
Battles performance was a tight, cohesive and sheer fucking brilliant display of musicianship – if rock n’ roll had scientists it would be these guys; professors of sonic magic. And judging by the cheers and smiles of the fans, a fantastic night was had by all – this is why we love live music.