My memory kind of sucks. While I have no problem with factoids and trivia, when it comes to recollecting personal experiences, I often draw a blank. This is incredibly frustrating when it comes to, say, remembering concerts I've seen. Most people seem to have the uncanny ability to remember set-lists spot on, between-song banter verbatim, or what band members were wearing. But, since I have difficulty remembering most shows, it makes the ones I do remember all that more special. I can say that New York super-group (which features former members of Don Caballero and Helmet) Battles are one of the best live bands I have ever seen.
As musicians, Battles' instruments simply act as an extra appendage, somehow making live experimentation and free-form expressions seem more like a conversation among old friends rather than an impromptu jam session. From John "my cymbal is so high that I almost have to jump to hit it" Stanier's power-house drumming, to Ian Williams and Tyondai Braxton's graceful movements from guitar to keyboards, everything gels effortlessly, giving the music an almost robotic fluidity, yet it still retains all human and organic sensibilities.
So what makes Battles so memorable? On "Atlas," the first single off their new critically acclaimed album Mirrored, the addition of computerized, munchkin-esque vocals (the band was previously all instrumental) is at first perplexing, but layered on top of a relentless drumbeat and driving rhythm it's impossible to ignore, luring the listener into attempting to ridiculously sing along. Their music is powerful, driven, and overconfident—if performed by any other group, it would feel out of place. But when music like this is created by Battles, it's a natural fit. It's been years since I've seen them and I still remember the show, which in itself is quite a feat.