After following their musical career over the last 10 years, seeing Explosions in the Sky play live at Metropolis this past Sunday was like a dream come true. I grew up listening to this moody post-rock band during my teenage angst days, on endless night bus rides going from one city to the next, and with friends on summer road trips.
With bands that I’m emotionally invested in, I sometimes worry that seeing them live will be disappointing because my expectations could never possibly be met. I was the complete opposite of disappointed. I’ve rarely seen a band so in sync. The Texan-originated quartet was playing flawlessly together without even looking at each other once during the entire set.
They really got into each song: there were no breaks, and each song flowed into the next with their heads and bodies swaying in slow, synchronized motion. The crowd seemed to be floating in instrumental euphoria, heads tilted slightly upwards with closed eyes and smiles on their faces. Or alternatively, as my friend Derek described the scene, ”So many balding white guys in black band t-shirts and rectangular glasses bobbing their heads.”
Not only are Explosions superb performers, but their musical prowess is exquisite to observe. The way that they layer their electric guitar riffs with the rhythm section conveys a climactic assemblage of artistic cliffhangers. Hearing “First Breath After Coma” felt like my ears were being bathed in a silky warm gold liquid where I lost sense of time and space. To clarify, I was not on drugs — this experience was the natural high induced by dopamine flooding my brain.
My friend and me admired the band’s variety of arrangements, and how each song crescendoed and then was deconstructed again in a labyrinth of audible pleasure. Their set intertwined tracks from both their newer music such as “Losing the Light” from their latest 2016 LP, The Wilderness, as well as older tunes such as “Trembling Hands” from their 2011 EP, Take Care, Take Care, Take Care, and their iconic hit “A Song for Our Fathers”, from their 2007 EP, How Strange, Innocence.
They’ve been together a long time and it’s evident that they are still pros with their really tight timing and their natural and aerie harmonizing. Explosions in the Sky ended their set with the cream of the crop and my all time favourite “Your Hand In Mine” from their 2007 EP, The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place. In all, it was both bittersweet and inspiring to see them. I recommend any post-rock fan to go see them if they get the chance. In the meantime, download all their albums on your phone, go sit under a tree and contemplate melancholically the grandeur of our existence.
– Review by Jess Newfield