Saturday, November 17, 2007

My Belated Review of Battles and Caribou at The Metro

I was in Chicago two weeks ago for work and caught Battles, Caribou, Born Ruffians and White Williams at The Metro. The show was unique in that the Battles/White Williams tour and the Caribou/Born Ruffians tours just happened to be coming through Chicago at the same time and they just doubled up the bill. It was sold out. Lots of hipsters.

Unfortunately, we missed White Williams since the friend who had tickets at will call was late getting there from work, so we sat at whatever bar that is next to The Metro for a few beers untill he showed up. We walked into The Metro right as Born Ruffians started. A very young trio, I thought they were great. Sharp, punchy pop songs that rip off the weirder parts of Pixies. In fact the singer's yelp was a little TOO similar to Frank Black's sometimes, but I really liked them. The drummer was great, pounding aggressive rhythms over these pop songs, starting the overriding theme of the night: incredible and conspicuous drumming.

Caribou was next. I guess I didn't realize how shoegazey they were until I saw them live. They were good, but really just didn't do it for me. They played way too long and I was bored of them after about the 4th song. I think my biggest problem with them was the singing. If they never sang or opened their mouths, I would have liked the set a lot more... Instrumentally they were great, even if the most musically interesting moments were created by the laptop computer that overlayed their whole set with beats, noises and samples. I definitely preferred the more electronically-influenced songs. Overall, as I was watching their set, I felt like it should have been compelling, but it wasn't, it was just boring.

Battles were up next, and holy jesus, they were great live. So Radiohead opened up their new album with a song in five; la-di-freaking-da. The rhythms and counter-rhythms and odd times signatures all collided with each other in oddly perfect unison. Every review I've read of Battles refers to them as mathy or otherwise references their supposed mathiness. Kids, this is just jazz in a new outfit, and it looks and feels so good. I had listened to a grand total of about two Battles songs before this show, but that didn't make a damn bit of difference, as I was engaged, entertained and amazed by every second of their set.

Pitchfork has pictures of the show HERE, which is good, since I forgot to bring my camera.



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