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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

“Santa Monica”

Everclear | 1996

After his brother and girlfriend both died of drug overdoses, Art Alexakis -- depressed and hooked on drugs himself -- jumped off the Santa Monica Pier in California, determined to die. "It was really stupid," said the Everclear frontman, who would further explore his personal emotional journey in the song "Father of Mine." "I went under the water. Then I said, 'I don't wanna die.'" The song, declaring "Let's swim out past the breakers/and watch the world die," was intended as a manifesto for change, Alexakis said. "Let the world do what it's gonna do and just live on our own."

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