Live at the Capitol Hill Block Party: Explosions in the Sky

photos by Dave Lichterman

Has anybody ever written a good live review of Explosions in the Sky?  A review that, when read, might perhaps reflect some amount of the energy and environment found at an Explosions show? I found myself asking this question after their set during dusk on the closing day of CHBP 2011. During the music, there was not a whole lot going on on-stage – they were moving, but nearly all in uniform. The focus was on the music alone and, sadly, I’ve come to terms with the fact that no words I write will do justification to their set Sunday night.

Explosions seem to know their fans. I had waited seven years to see this band, the stranger behind me had waited ten, and it was both our first time seeing them. Explosions in the Sky began their set in the best way possible, playing the first two tracks off of their tremendous 2003 release, The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place. This seemed to be the pattern of the night, as nearly half of their set was from this album or their 2006 release, All of A Sudden I Miss Everyone. The high point for me was “Your Hand in Mine,” a song off of the 2003 release that has changed my life in countless ways.

I’ve rarely felt so blown away at a show –- it was constant wave after wave of reminiscence, reflection, wishing you could look across a vast Texas sky instead of the Shell station hovering nearby. There is something about Explosions’ music that makes me want to let my eyes look as far as they can see, an expansiveness that is patient, comes and goes in diminuendo’s and crescendo’s. Polyrhythms were frequent, occurring often between the percussion and three electric guitars that they are appraised for using. While Explosions has sometimes been criticized for rather formulaic song writing, this was not a factor live –- they all brilliantly shared leads, one second the snares ringing out, the next a guitar pulling the percussion along. People had tears in their eyes and smiles on their faces, awash in a flurry of overwhelming emotion. It was, for me, by far the best show at 2011’s Block Party.

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3 Comments

  1. Anton Be
    Posted July 26, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Sweet review - wish I was there!

  2. Julia Massey
    Posted September 5, 2011 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Michael!

    I’ve been pouring over your blog today, and eventually got to your Explosions review. Your description of wanting to “let [your] eyes look as far as they can see, an expansiveness that is patient, comes and goes in diminuendo’s and crescendo’s” inspired me to keep making music in hopes that our listeners come to expect the same.

    It appears that you have accomplished the accurate live review of this band, much to the delight of my drummer whose main influence is these guys....Bravo!

    Incidentally, is there anyway to connect with you over email? My band, Julia Massey & The Five Finger Discount, would love to send you a copy of our latest release.

    Best,

    Julia

  3. Michael Beck
    Posted September 6, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    Julia, what a nice message. Of course. My email is mfb2@sfu.ca. I’ve heard great things about you and your band and I’m glad I could aid you (or anyone, for that matter) to keep in touch with your creative self and inspire you to create music.

    Keep in touch.
    m.

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