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Battles Bring the Space Funk on Bonnaroo's Opening Night

June 13, 2008 11:02 AM ET

Battles may be one of the stranger acts to play at Bonnaroo, the annual Tennessee festival that has a tradition of hosting jammier bands like Phil Lesh and Friends and Trey Anastasio. But with the lineup more diverse than ever this year — thanks to headliners like Metallica playing alongside acts like Jack Johnson — Battles were a solid choice to perform on the first night of the fest. The New York-based four-piece — fronted by Tyondai Braxton, the son of jazz musician Anthony Braxton — turned out a killer hour long set of tricked-out, prog-rock grooves, which ranged from avant-garde electro-jazz to freaked-out space funk. The clear highlight of the group's set was "Atlas," a fantastic piece of robo-rock that mixes Daft Punk-style electro-grooves with industrial atmospherics. Last year, Battles were a blip on the blog-buzz radar, thanks to their debut disc Mirrored. But based on the crowd's insanely enthusiastic reaction, these dudes have deservedly developed a huge cult following.

 

Rolling Stone at Bonnaroo 2008

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Song Stories

“Nightshift”

The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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