There are some bands whose name just happens to be incredibly appropriate for their brand of music. I think Explosions In the Sky is one of those bands. Their sound has this incredible, intergalactic feel to it. Like you’re floating atop a big white fluffy cloud in some dizzying orbit amidst the earth’s upper stratosphere. It’s a cosmic tour inside of some surrealistic dream-state, and when it all reaches the instrumental boiling point, you have a front row seat to the greatest fireworks show you’ve ever seen.
The Austin 5-piece came right out of the gate with a song called “Postcard from 1952” off of their most recent album Take Care, Take Care, Take Care. It was a great way to start the set. Explosions have an incredible knack for the build-up, and this song as a great exhibit of that. It starts off slow and like a freight train, builds steam with the onset of every new guitar lick. Layers upon layers of cosmic-sounding riffs begin piling on top of each other like a cover of warm blankets. It culminates in a fantastic release of adrenaline.
I don’t know of many bands that utilize three electric guitarists, but EITS seem to have it figured out. The texture is thick and complex, but there is never interference. I think the three of them know exactly when to pick up a riff or when to drop out. The sounds are tactfully intertwined, yet distinctly unique… always complimenting one another instead of overpowering or obstructing.
“Human Qualities” about halfway through the show was the next recognizable song for me. I’ve grown familiar with the tunes off of Take Care over the last couple months after purchasing the album on vinyl. It was at this moment that I felt myself longing for a more engaging light show. It seemed to me that the band came toting a fairly stock lighting rig, and I couldn’t help but wonder why they’ve yet to invest in a better set up. I mean, here they are playing the Chicago Theatre… so it’s not like they can’t afford it. I just think that this particular band, with this particular style of music, would have a lot to gain from investing in the creation of a high-end visual experience for its concertgoers. But that’s just my opinion… sometimes it’s okay to let the music be the center of attention.
Hearing “Your Hand in Mine” towards the back end of this performance was very cool for me. This was the first song that I ever heard by these guys and the one that really turned me on to their sound so it was a real treat to hear it live. And I’m glad they snuck it in when they did because when it was all said and done, EITS decided to opt out of the traditional encore performance. Maybe it’s an Austin thing… like doing an encore would have been too mainstream or something. I mean, let’s face it, not everyone can rock epic, four hour sets in the pouring rain well into their 60’s like The Boss can, but this barely-hour-and-a-half encore-less performance was borderline offensive to the band’s paying customers. In the end, you always get what you give. But amidst its flaws, this was an incredible rock show that left a lasting impression on me. These guys have been on my list of shows to see for quite some time now, so it felt good to put a check next to their name. Seeing them at the magnificent Chicago Theatre was the icing on the cake. Take Care, friends, Take Care, Take Care, Take Care.