6th June 2011
New York trio Battles came to Leeds on the day they released their second album, Gloss Drop. This made for quite a strange gig at times as most of the crowd were not too familiar with any of the songs that were played.
Also frontman Tyondai Braxton had left the band midway through making the album so there was no material from previous album Mirrored played on the night. Although Braxton didn’t really sing too much he gave the band a focal point which had been replaced by screens at the back which allowed the guest vocalists from Gloss Drop to be there in projected form.
Just before the band enter the stage I look round and the main room is bursting at the seams which surprised me as I had earlier been told that the gig had been nowhere near to selling out. As the band strolled on they said nothing and went straight into album opener Africastle, which builds up slowly before progressing into a good dance rock number.
Battles also allow a lot of room for improvisation which extends most songs and makes things interesting as well as giving each show a unique feel. By the time they play Sweetie & Shag, which features Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino, they have definitely got everyone onside with their new material. The track is one of the highlights of the set especially with the bass line that pounds all the way through.
Battles finally get the crowd moving when they play lead single Ice Cream which is easily the most well-known song of the night. They follow this up with more album tracks, beginning with the calypso inspired Dominican Fade which keeps the high pace going. Futuraand Inchworm highlight the bands technical abilities after which they ended with My Machines, featuring Gary Numan, which is the heaviest, and also one of the best moments.
The band then return for a one song encore of Sundome which sounded good but was a bit of a let-down, as the show would definitely have been better without an encore as the band had just played constantly with no pauses for anything except a small mention of their new album. Despite this the gig was really good and the improvisation on songs was really interesting without getting pretentious.