Battles on the BBC

I went to see Battles a couple of weeks back. I already wrote about it the first time I saw them, so I won’t go on and on about it. Full reviews of the gig by users are here and here.

In my view, this performance was even better than the one at Glasgow. It does feel a little bit like ‘Atlas’ overshadows the rest of the gig though! ‘Leyendecker’ was also quite an impressive performance.

There seemed to be a few technical issues. For some reason Ian Williams seemed to have problems with the looping, or the volume of his guitar or something. Show opener ‘Race: Out’ was ruined at first. The three guitarists quickly alternate turns playing twice a bar, but Ian Williams was too busy fixing his problem, leaving a big gap.

The impressive thing, though, was the way the band as a whole coped with the problem. Realising the performance was a dud, they just seamlessly started again near the beginning. I guess with all that technology involved, they must be pretty used to that sort of thing and they just took it in their stride. Many people probably did not even realise there was a problem (though they might have thought it was a bit long!).

Anyway, the point of this post is that Battles played at the Electric Proms last week. Tickets sold out before Battles were even added to the bill. The headliners? Editors. A slight mismatch perhaps. The wayward experimentalism of Battles was probably a bit of a shock to the system for the poor souls!

The full performance is available to watch on the BBC website until the 4th of November. There is a taste of what I saw when Battles were faced with a problem. Dave Konopka had problems with the start of ‘Tij’. Not to worry — quick-thinking drummer John Stainer just improvised a bit. Nobody will notice!


  1. They were on ‘later’ as well on Friday, playing Atlas, apparently ‘the best track of the decade’ according to the bbc!
    There were definitely technical issues with the delay/looper thing at the back of the stage, though I couldn’t see all that well thanks to some smelly guy in a hatebreed hoodie :/ something to do with the timing of loops got out of sync, but it was amazing to see them take it in their stride and correct it. i suppose they must be used to that sort of thing happening when its to be so precise.

  2. Yeah, I saw them on Later. It ought to be a cause for national celebration when a band that is actually good gets on Later with Jools Holland. Not the best performance of Atlas, but nonetheless anyone who’s never seen Battles before should have found it impressive.

    Were those problems with the looper thing at the back at the Liquid Room? Can’t say I noticed that. Their performance obviously hinges a lot on the technology though, and if it screws up then it compromises the entire performance. I’ve noticed that particularly with the end of Atlas. Presumably those last few bars are done by recording little two beat-long snippets during the performance, and it’s a bit hit and miss. Sometimes it sounds amazing, and other times it doesn’t really work at all. Like the third and fourth bars during the Later performance!

  3. Yeah, at the liquid rooms – I think I noticed it most during ‘atlas’ but it might have been elsewhere too, just trying to sync some of the stuff up and it not quite working and having to go and do it again while the band played on. I think thats spot on with those last few bars, depending on the rest of the song – its funny for being such a ‘precise’ style of music its different every time. very cool though 🙂