I posted something at my Tumblr about the Explosions in the Sky gig I went to last night, and by the time I was done with it, I realized the piece was long enough to post here
I don’t know about you, but there are really three places where I listen to music: on my 45-minute drives to and from work, while doing the grocery shopping, and while bopping around the house on a Friday night or Saturday afternoon.
The point is, always I’ve got time to kill when listening. I don’t mind your expansiveness of concept right then. In fact I welcome it, You wanna take 20 minutes to do your Impressions of the Revealing Science of God? Great. Want to stretch out and use 19 minutes to paint me a picture of Swastika Girls? Kick-ass, I’ve got time.
It may seem incongruous to describe Explosions in the Sky as driving music, but I think that’s exactly what they are. They start with this tiny, quiet smidgen of a lyrical idea, and then keep piling on to it. Fifteen minutes later, the band is indeed exploding.
But you gotta have that fifteen minutes. If you”re in and out of the shop, let’s say, like I am at work, you either catch the beginning or catch the end, but not both. And the beginning makes the end, and vice versa.
While it seems that much of the (very large) audience last night knew EITS’ music better than I did, I still noticed something interesting: the cheers, when they came, were typically not at the end of the songs, but rather at the end of the explosions. Many of their songs have quiet codas reprising the beginnings, and several times last night I couldn’t hear these soft endpoints ‘cause the crowd was going nuts.
To me, that says that the crowd was there for the crescendos. Hell, the crescendos were what I was there for. Their crescendoes are awesome. But I also found myself at times kind of waiting around for them. The buildups that seem like necessary world-building while I’m driving seemed kind of interminable while I was standing on my tired and achy dogs in the packed and sweaty performance space.
Nothing to be done for it, not really. That is the kind of music Explosions in the Sky makes. They can’t cut it down or edit it, at least I don’t think they should. They and we just have to live with it: The music’s integrity relies on parts that don’t translate as well in a live situation.
On the other hand: When they had it going, the racket they made was as powerful as anything I’ve ever heard in my life. I say that even though I’ve seen Sonic Youth three times. I once saw a unknown band named Polline’ open up for the Mercury Program and I had thought that the capstone to their show was as unholy a noise as I was ever likely to hear. Explosions equalled if not surpassed it.
And they are like Sonic Youth, because when they get going, you’re not sure that everything you’re hearing is actually there, if you know what I mean. Everything is swirling so quickly and so loudly that your mind is a little unsure of how to process it all, and sometimes it makes things up to fill in the gaps. It can be audio pareidolia: you hear bells and voices and whistles and other non-existent aural patterns amidst the buzzsaws.
Or maybe they’re there after all. . . .
Anyway, in a nutshell, put up with the boring soft parts, as the loud parts are fucking incredible with this band.
The other thing that needs to be said is that Explosions thrash around. Mightily. Nearly spastic Michael James was dripping sweat five minutes into the show. All three guitarists are out of control at various points, sometimes all three of them at once. It was a joy to see them so very much into the music, and let's single out Munaf Rayani as a man who Pete Townsend could take to heart for the abuse he dishes out to his Fender.
And yo, loved the Texas flag draped over the amplifier.
Explosions in the Sky - All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone - 01 The Birth and Death of the Day.mp3
192 kbps mp3, up for six weeks
File under: Driving Music