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Explosions In The Sky @ the Wiltern, 3/17/08
It was quite an amazing scene Monday night at the Wiltern, the place was completely packed for a band that had no singer, no lyrics of any kind and was basically just guitars and drums. While some would think this wouldn't be an exciting concert to see or it would be inspiring or emotional as seeing a band with a singer at the front they would be wrong, very wrong. Emotional and inspiring are the exact words I would use to describe the music of the Texas-bred quartet, Explosions In The Sky. You have heard it on various movie trailers and in the soundtrack/score for the feature film, and later television adaptation Friday Night Lights but the true power of their music can only be felt live.
The Explosions in the Sky concert experience isn't like most rock shows that you would see any other night in LA. There are no breaks, each song flows into the next, each almost an extension of what feels like one big song or in a more classical sense, movement. This speaks to the consistency of their now four album deep catalog, while they have added elements and explored different themes the overall sound has remained consistent. Some songs are dark and brooding while others are uplifting and hopeful, each hold their own story within itself while at the same time working in this overall "movement"
Besides being from the Permian area where the film took place, it is no wonder why Explosions in the Sky were chosen to do the score for Friday Night Lights . Their blend of climax and pace is ripe with cinematic intentions. With no lyrics and titles like " The Only Moment We Were Alone" and "First Breath After Coma" one can't help but imagining a story or film scene that each song would accompany. Their music is so effective on a visceral level that they don't need words. Some other bands in the "prog-rock" movement (Mogwai, Godspeed! You Black Emperor) have included lyrics and while they work for them, lyrics in an Explosions song would completely ruin the experience that one has when listening to their songs.
Live they are loud, not surprising with two and sometimes three guitars all playing simultaneously. One guitar may be playing the rhythm of the track, while the other plays the melody and the third uses pedals and mixers to create a sonic palette of noises and effects to create a wonderfully layered sound to their music, all this while the drums drive on. Distortion is used to blend each track together rather than simply fading out and as stated before they never stop playing until the dramatic conclusion of "Memorial" which ends with all three guitarists playing the same chord in a loud, dramatic fashion.
Explosions in the Sky is a wonderfully unique band that has created, at least for me, some of the most memorable sonic moments in the past 5 years. Sadly if you missed them on this tour you may have missed them for a while as the band has stated that after this tour they would "fall off the face of the earth for a while." Do yourself a favor a pick up any (or all) of their four albums, I would recommend The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place as a good starting point, put them in your car late at night and go for a drive.