The contrast between people lined up to get into The Palace Theatre on Friday night was amazing. There was an older demographic, a young demographic, some metalheads, some punk kids, some jam-band loving hippies– it was seriously all over the place. Thankfully, the line for will call was a bit longer than usual which gave me plenty of time to take it all in. Although the people watching was prime, I really couldn’t get a read on how the night was going to go so I was excited as I entered the beautiful theatre just in time for the opening act to start.
When I say I got in just in time, I mean it. The room went dark as I was walking to “my spot” and, when I got there and faced the stage, Battles had just kicked into their forty-five-minute set with a sense of fury and power. My boyfriend had warned me that this band wasn’t going to be my favorite new band and he was right. Don’t get me wrong, the duo absolutely killed their performance but their experimental almost electronic music definitely wasn’t for me. That didn’t stop me from being completely captivated though. With rainbow lights circling the stage and their unique and almost glitchy music blaring through the speakers, they were absolutely creating a mood that, love it or have it, was truly something completely different for me.
Both Ian Williams (guitars, keyboards, loops, effects) and John Stanier (drums) were fun to watch throughout the set but it was the pure genius of John Stanier that had my jaw on the ground for the majority of the time. There was just something about his playing that came off as so effortless even though he was playing complicated rhythms and never seemed to stop. With his crash cymbal raised higher than high (I had never seen a set-up like that), he was hard to look away from just because of his style. I don’t know how else to say it and feel like I’m just going to start repeating myself but, seriously, if you go see Battles live, you will understand what I mean.
Battles joked about how they used to be a four-piece, then moved to a three-piece, and now, as we could see, they were a duo. They teased the crowd admitting that they probably need a bass player and asked if anyone in the audience knew how to play bass. Unshockingly, a lot of people raised their hands but instead of grabbing someone from the quickly growing audience, Primus member and true legend Les Claypool came out to help them out. Although it definitely filled their sound a bit, I truly enjoyed Battles as a duo and hope they stick to that as there was already so much to catch and hear. Long story short- sure, their music wasn’t quite for me but I thoroughly enjoyed their set and would absolutely go see them again when they come back to town.
Primus’ first set was full of originals which was my favorite part but the second set was a favorite of many of the older people in the audience. Primus was paying homage to Rush’s monumental album ‘A Farewell to Kings’ on this tour by playing the album in its entirety. Full disclosure, I’ve never gotten into Rush so the playthrough meant very little to me but it was clear that it meant so much to so many other people in the audience. It was as if two worlds were colliding in a perfect way. I appreciated the fact that although they were covering the full album from front to back, Primus put their own spin and used their own distinct sound to perform the Rush tracks. For someone who knows nothing about Rush and has never actually listened to ‘A Farewell to Kings’, it made me want to check it out just to compare and contrast the two. After the album playthrough, Primus came back out to end the set with three last originals.
Whether you were there because you love Primus or there because Rush’s ‘A Farewell To Kings’ meant the world to you or there just to check it out– you left with a smile on your face when the night was over and done. It didn’t matter if you were one of the older people who spent the set just in awe of everything going on or one of the younger kids who spent the night trying to get some people around them to move to the beat but to no avail– you were having the time of your life. It didn’t matter who you were or why you were at The Palace Theatre on Friday night– chances are you left happy which is a big thing in this day and age.