Photography by Dan Smyth

Now, I’ve never been a great fan of London’s Heaven. On entry the atmosphere is dour and space to breath tends to become a luxury once the first band are on. But never the less, once you get over that, within the part time gig venue's cavernous walls a host of some of the world’s best small bands play night after night. Tucked neatly away under the arches of Charing Cross Station, Battles took it over for the evening to play their second album ‘Gloss Drop’ in its entirety.

The support band, Thank You, almost seemed like a tribute to Battles' unique style with their waves of guitar adorning the venue, tom toms crashing and synths materializing. But that’s the thing, it only worked as a mere distant tribute, only Battles can do what they do and make it sound as engaging and edgy.

As Battles took to the stage, drummer John Stanier’s cymbals cowered high into the venue, their crashes quickly joined by powerful static strums and guitar hugging electronic blips. The set seemed mainly to consist of the exciting exchange of patterned rhythms between guitarist and keys player Ian Williams and bassist come guitarist Dave Konopka, blending their intricate melodies finely into the network of sounds beneath them.

Heaven’s always been something of a visual indulgence, with its powerful light shows tricking photographers and audience alike at every moment; and they didn’t seem to hold back for Battles, as some members of the crowd chose to sport shades as strobes glared away.




A projection screen flashing in the background at first seemed to play no effect in the aesthetic of the performance. Later though, smooth visuals of collaborators from the new record revealed themselves, as the band layered vocal tracks along with the cut and chop of the images behind them. Although unrelenting and at times indistinguishable from noise the sounds of Battles rose through Heaven’s dense speakers and enchanted the crowd beneath as audience members strutted accordingly with each hip and jerk. New single ‘Ice Cream’ saw the warmest response prompting a scramble for position in the sold out gig as Ian Williams tapped away engrossingly at an MPC as squirms of vocal flashed against the screen.


Although atmosphere hindered tonight, Battles came, did their job and seemed in appreciative nature. It’s just a shame the crowd responded with cries for sounds of their debut.