Explosions in the Sky are exactly what their name implies: a thunderous, cathartic, emotional live act whose crashing, delirious symphonies detonate with the fire of a sun. That might sound like a lot of hyperbole to swallow, but for these four Austin-based dudes, it’s apt. The dying genre of post-rock has all but been left in the dust, and Explosions in the Sky are the last of the greats still touring. The soundscapes they manage to produce with three guitars and a drum kit match and occasionally surpass the already-epic quality of a symphony orchestra, drawing on complex and intricate chord progressions along with crushing and explosive riffs. Celebrating the release of their sixth full-length album, Take Care, Take Care, Take Care, the quartet has taken their instrumental narratives to Sasquatch! and the Capitol Hill Block Party, and now they’re set to play at this year’s MusicFest Northwest. First, they’re slated to rock KEXP’s live MFNW broadcast from the Doug Fir stage.
Explosions put on a three song set, opting to play the final tracks on their bright new album, Take Care, Take Care, Take Care. I wish I could see this band live without feeling like my emotional spectrum is being expanded and running away from me a bit. Then again, these lonely and epic long songs are created for just this reason — contemplation, reflection, reminiscing on past experiences. There was no dead air for the entire set — Explosions used sonic drone and feedback as interludes, allowing for people to take a deep breath and consider how ridiculous our time on this planet is only to break free from this, crisp snare and crashing symbols beneath overriding guitar arpeggios. For the entire set, Michael James stood stoically on the front edge of the stage, eyes closed, rocking back and forth while Mark Smith spent most of the time on his knees stage right. Their outdoor set tonight will be more than double the length and it will be interesting to see if they play some older songs — they are at Pioneer Courthouse Square tonight at 7:30pm.
photos by Brittney Bush Bollay: