Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Battles - Imperial China -- Black Cat - Jun 11 2012

Imperial China - Deja Vu (NOT all over again--can we retire that one, please?). I don't always get to see Imperial China frequently, but twice in one week may be pushing my interest for most bands. Not with a band as good as this. Their house show warm-up set had them ready as ever to put on a solid 45-minute outing in front of a surprisingly large crowd. Not only was it Monday night, but as the band thanked everyone for coming, they reminded us of a rather large show a few blocks away (Mogwai apparently finally appeared on about the fourth rescheduled date). So there were 1,200 noisy electronic fans at the 9:30 club and another 4-500 here. Apparently when loud, electronic music with strong guitars and cool melodies is produced, people will flock to it. And many people were here to hear Imperial China as much as Battles based on the crowd response. The two IC members did their usual shifting around between guitars, bass, extra percussion and electronics with one guy on vocals, while the third member kept up a torrid pace on drums. They really have some great songs that sneak in between the great sounds, helped by good vocal work that works its way through the heavy reverb and snaky guitar runs that give an Eastern flavor on occasion. Strong set, yet again. These guys have been a fixture on the short list of DC bands I want to see regularly for a long time now.

Battles - This trio is augmented by a rather interested set of guest vocalists. They start off with a couple of guitars and drums/percussion. There is a ton of electronics they are also working in front of a couple of large fancy screens that flash a lot of bright colorful lights. Eventually, after several instrumentals, the screens play videos featuring closeups of guest vocalists singing to the Battles' songs. I recognize Gary Numan who took this very stage last year. This was a nice feature that I have not seen employed. The music was much more fascinating for me than that of other bands of this ilk and the instrumentals were winning enough as they were. Having a drummer from Helmet helped keep things strong, but the guitars kept things more interesting than that of a band that simply relies on electronica. The opening instrumental reminded me of Algarnas Tradgard playing an Ennio Morricone arrangement of Pink Floyd's "One of These Days". I still can not quite bring myself to dig deep into this type of music, but seeing the visuals with that little extra dash of creativity this band is capable of, makes me continue to go deeper in this field. Most of the crowd knew of this band long before I, and clearly enjoyed the set tonight. Battles is off to a few more US shows finishing in Denver at the Westword Festival which I have been to a couple of times. Then it is off to Europe for more festivals where they no doubt will continue to wow the crowds.

Quote of the Day: "I'll take two triple chocolate... or rather, one, make that one!"
Sorry it was a quiet night, so I have to use an inside joke today regarding cupcakes.

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