After kicking it in Kansas City’s nightlife laden Westport area, the growing line of folks waited to get in to the sold-out Tuesday night Battles show, slated to start at 10pm. The 2nd of 3 bands was late, causing more of a wait. Not an easy thing after a four-hour drive from St. Louis. We waited some more. It was packed, so we waited for everything.
The first band, Pixel Pandas, played a huge set. The band was great, but the singer could not hold a tune and yelled out of key while the soundman tried to help us out by turning him way down. They played way too long and I blame them for a shorter Battles set. I had to get out of there. I did. I curse the Pixel Pandas!
Singer came on next and played a prog-60’s, mellow, psychedelic set with good harmonies and a loose groove. But unless you were on acid, one soon tired of the style about four songs into it. Still, it was nice to see some post-modern Hendrix-y style tunes. The band traded vocals in key, so the pleased crowd was chillin’ and socializing. Accompanying us was a KC news personality, giving me that “what did you drag me out late on a freakin Tuesday?” look, and all I could say was, “Just wait…”
After a night of more and more waiting, Battles set up their own gear. Ex-Helmet drummer John Stanier positioned himself center and at the front of the stage. You could not see him or his set over the crowd of heads in the pit. The only thing in view was the lone cymbal, six to seven feet above his kit.
Battles started with a building energy, as keys and guitar sounds filled the anticipatory room. As the sound started to climax, the drums hit. Stanier’s rock-solid drumming style got a hold of the crowd, dropped jaws, and sent some to dance in what little room could be found. Most of the fans just lost their damn minds and had a blast. It all peaked at the playing of the first single, “Atlas,” from their first full length CD, Mirrored. They played a healthy mix of stuff from Mirrored with some additional tunes that must be from their EP catalog. They didn’t over-do the vocals, and it was a nice artistic blend of sounds with lots of effects. The abstract soundwaves rip at the drums, keeping the music solid and fun. Unfortunately, they had to cut it short when the lights came on ¾ of the way through the set. When it ended, most were sad and pissed at the opening bands for having played too long. But enough fun and endorphins were cooking to make the drive back to St. Louis by 6AM. Battles were definitely worth the wait, but next time, we’ll skip Pixel Pandas!