Review: Battleme at The High Dive 4/46
Seattle needs more rock and roll. There, I said it. Thursday at Fremont’s the High Dive, I was able to finally get my fix by way of the best thing to come from Portland since their public transit system. Battleme is a force live, with almost too much Jagger-inspired strut to be contained on a stage. And, on top of stage presence, they’ve got material that is both catchy and edgy. While they have yet to announce any upcoming shows in Seattle, I can say with blind certainty that this will change soon – as this is a band you NEED to see live, they’ll blow you away.
Battleme’s self titled album was released just days ago, and upon first listen, it’s pretty damn fantastic. When I read on their facebook that they consider themselves of the “Concrete Rock Electro Psychedelic Folk Dance Push” genre, I had no idea what to expect. But after hearing their album it makes so much more sense – they take a classic rock sound and infuse it with interesting parts of other genres. The end result is that this album is a captivating experience – each song is dynamic and hits your ear drums in the best way possible. Walking into the venue, my expectations were high after falling fast and hard for the record, as this struck me as an album that would best be experienced in a live setting. I was in no way, shape, or form let down by MattÂ Drenik and his band. They took myÂ expectationsÂ and threw them out the window in fact, putting on one of the best rock shows I’ve seen in a while.
The entire set (with the exception of the encore) was pulled from their latest release. Probably the best part about seeing the songs performed live was getting the chance to see Drenik work the stage for all he’s worth. He is made to be a front man – the guy has the kind of charisma that puts him on par with the likes of Steven Tyler. Watching him seemed to inspire the crowd to drop theirÂ inhibitions, and the floor was full of bodies trying their best to keep up. His band mates were just as impressive, especially his drummer Zach Richards. Richards was just about as incredible to watch behind the kit as Drenik was armed with his guitar. The guy just looked effortless while hammering out theÂ rhythm – he was as much fun to watch as his front man. Erik Johnston was on keys and he seemed to have a playful demeanor, with his long hair shaking along to each note. As a whole, these guys have something special – asÂ triteÂ as that sounds – and as great as they probably are individually, as an ensemble they’re incredible.
In terms of song choices, I’m not sure how it could have gotten better. Stand outs of the night were many, and all the songs had a heavy, 70s inspired sort of mentality about them. This is music that would find itself quite comfortable in the backseat of a Camaro; it’s sexy and perfectly designed for a hot, sweaty night out with a lover. While a lot of the songs were heavy and thick with distortion, Battleme showcased a softer side in songs like ‘Wire’ and ‘Trouble.’ These songs allowed the listener to really hear Drenick flex his lyrical and vocal muscles, which are both high and throaty. His vocals have a grit about them at times, and then in the next verse he’ll be clear and sweet sounding. He has a gift, that’s for certain. A special moment for the crowd was found in ‘Trouble,’ a song that Drenik assured us would not be played often live. It was an intimate moment, in an already very intimate show. A song though that showcases what this band is best at is ‘Shoot the Noise, Man.’ This song infuses so many different components of the band that it’s a perfect opportunity for them to showcase what they can do behind their instruments. It is a perfect combination of classic rock, a bit of funk, some assistance from electronica, and has hooks perfectly designed for radio. It’s impossible keep control of your hips to this song- be advised.
The encore was a perfect cover, and one that is well known by Battleme and rock fans across the board. Drenik’s version of Neil Young’s Â ‘Hey Hey, My My’ is one of the many Battleme songs featured on Sons of Anarchy, and brought the night to a very memorable way – as if the night wasn’t memorable enough to the fans crowded in the High Dive. Battleme’s show reminded me of what Seattle has needs more of, and I’m looking forward to seeing this band come back to our emerald city in the near future.