Battles at the Concorde 2, Brighton, 21st August
Battles made the Concorde sweat right through its scruffy, seen-better-days Shellac t-shirt – this, in a venue whose idea of air conditioning is to keep the back door open. I’m certain that most bands that play the Concorde haven’t got the first idea what they’re letting themselves in for. The Concorde – Brighton’s Premier Music Venue proclaim the banners – the reality is a little different. When bands such as Battles or Wire play here, I always think – why the hell aren’t you guys playing up the road at the Dome? Much more civilised. The Concorde is so grimy and indie (for that read credible) it positively smarts. And don’t get me started on the sound. The way in which the venue is constructed means that the acoustics are totally shagged – that is, when the whole PA doesn’t pack up like it did when Wire played there last. Battles set up their own equipment, and I don’t blame them – I’m not so sure anyone on the Concorde crew is qualified to touch it, let alone try to get a decent sound out of it.
Quite how Battles do what they do is quite beyond me – no-one in this band actually seems to play anything (with the exception of John Stanier). Ian Williams fingers a few frets and jabs on a keyboard. David Konopka doesn’t really play what you and I would understand to be a bass line – half the time, the bass is there for low end texture, rumbling away like a tube train in some unseen tunnel beneath your feet. And Tyondai Braxton’s vocals (when they aren’t buried in the bloody atrocious mix) aren’t ‘vocals’ at all – they’re high pitched, highly treated wails, pushed through about a hundred different effects pedals.
And John Stanier? Good god, the man’s a demented power tool. How he keeps the barrage up for nearly ninety minutes is completely beyond me (if you want to know why the Helmet reformation didn’t work, look no further – trying to do it without John Stanier is unthinkable).
Apart from the crapped out sound, the only other major problem with this gig was the fact that I was standing behind a man wearing a trilby. Note to all future gig goers: if you stand six feet two in your socks, do not wear a fucking trilby and stand in front of me. Forty minutes in, I took drastic action and ended up stamping on some poor girl’s foot (and judging from the footwear of the average Brighton gig goer, I bet it hurt as well – sorry!).
Oh, by the way, Battles rocked. But you don’t need me to tell you that.