For days we were searching for hangars, warehouses and big empty loft spaces. We got the opposite along with the immoderate enthusiasm of Agnes, who works with the city’s cinematography association and wanted to see “what it would be like, a Blogothèque concert at the city hall”. It was incongruous, it was bloody exciting. We were going to shoot Battles in a rococo style lounge in The Hotel de Ville, the magnificent city hall and mayor’s office in the centre of Paris.
We decided to go all out and take as much equipment possible, dragging huge boxes, running dozens of cables across the ancient and noisy wooden floor. Constructing a wall of amps under a fresco of glorious and triumphant agriculture, preparing a wall of sound that would, we were later told, make the several floors above us shake.
We couldn’t say what was further from their comfort zone – the angular futurism of Battles, or the heavily detailed painted walls of the ‘Bertrand Salon’. With the housekeepers flitting between anxiety and amusement, the three band members roamed around the space, eyeing up the chandeliers, dumbfounded. As their sound engineer secured several wires to the ground, Ian had trouble reducing his tension.
- You know, we never play live without an audience like this. We need the excitement… do you think we could have some beer?
- Beer, here? Surely we ought to have some good wine…
- Ha why not. But we’d need real glasses wouldn’t we?
The accessories were found. The wine glass almost linking the two worlds.
Next, the machine was launched. We were in an environment as different as the group themselves – their mathematical music, cut to the extreme, long sections with boxes within boxes – we couldn’t possibly film on just one camera. Nat found himself directing five cameras, trying to not miss even a microsecond of what was happening. The result is like nothing we’ve ever created before. Blogothèque, Battles, Bertrand : three B’s who have together embarked on a twisted mission.
We stayed some four hours in the salon Bertrand. Way longer than we promised the people working at Paris’ City Hall ; we had promised we would leave at 7.30, but it was 8 and we still hadn’t recorded Futura, which we really wanted to film. We were all exhausted, but the band was dead tired. They were less rigorous, drifting, especially John, struggling with his drumkit despite the fatigue. Playing Futura, that night, was like fighting the beast. Their beast.
Translated by Francesca Dunn and Nora Bouazzouni