By Rya Backer
It’s my first time at Bonnaroo, and so far, I wouldn’t change anything for the world. I’ve been hit in the head twice (once by a Frisbee, the other time by a young man on a lot of drugs in a banana costume); I haven’t eaten a vegetable since we flew to Nashville on Wednesday afternoon; I saw Jon Pareles and Bill Murray enjoying Radiohead’s set; and I’ve seen more regrettable tattoos in just these three days than I’ve seen in my entire life (special shout-out to the black bear on the California state flag whose claws morph into tree roots). But the best experience at this Bonnaroo so far has been seeing – in my opinion – the best live band right now, Battles.
One of the most exciting parts about even making it to the tent that Battles played, was passing by other stages. There’s literally music all around. I arrived in time to hear “Atlas,” a single off their 2007 release, “Mirrored,” a landmark album full of the layered, textured beats and locked grooves that make their sound so singular. Down a member (who, incidentally handled their vocals) since the album dropped, the band creatively opted to loop a children’s choir singing the track’s infectious hook and chorus. Other standouts from their set included “Ice Cream,” the first single off their latest album, “Gloss Drop,” and its second single, “My Machines.” The tracks, which feature Matias Aguayo and Gary Numan on vocals, respectively, featured the band’s now trademark screens behind them, with videos of each vocalist singing their song.
Following “My Machines,” bassist Dave Konopka spoke to the crowd, and explained that they initially had reservations about touring this year, they couldn’t resist the invitation of playing Bonnaroo.“It’s the best festival in the country,” guitarist/keyboardist Ian Williams followed later on, before closing with “Sundome.” And from the looks in the crowd, everyone seemed to agree.