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MUSIC/ The Explosions in the Sky: 10 years of post-rock celebrated with a tour

The concert at the Hollywood Palladium was a great experience of the incredible capability the Explosions in the Sky have of recreating live the great ambience and feelings of their records.  


There are not many concerts in which you have the feeling that everything has been played, shown and “said” after the first song so that you would be ready to get back home - and not because you don’t enjoy the band- with a sense of fulfillment because you’ve got already what you were there for. The date of the Anniversary tour of Explosions in the Sky at the Hollywood Palladium last Saturday was one of those.

The opening “The Only Moment We Were Alone” from the band’s masterpiece “The Earth is not a Cold Dead Place” in its over 10 minutes of length was a perfect, powerful and totally involving execution which included all the essential features of the Austin band. All what followed (with highlights such as “A Song For Our Fathers” from “How Strange, Innocence” and “The Birth And Death Of The Day” from “All of a Sudden I miss Everyone”) just confirmed the experience of the first 10 minutes.

Post-rock has many flavors. The one I prefer the most (together with the one of 65days of Static, Mogwai, Do Make Say Think) is the one of the Explosions for their simple sense of melody combined with their complex musical convolutions, their “purity” in avoiding any loop or sample intrusion and their powerful use of guitars.

And this concert, build around their most famous hits, was a great experience of their incredible capability of recreating live the great ambience and feelings of their records. Not an easy task considering the fact that the music of the Austin quartet has to be attentively listened and followed to catch all the little nuances that introduce changes in what should otherwise seem identical riffs, or to be able to discover the melody buried under two layers of distorted guitars, but the incredible output of the Palladium sound system didn’t let down the band.

No lights, no effects, no words of introduction between songs, just almost an hour and a half of a wild ride through the typical walls of sounds that hit you hard in the stomach, followed by the relief of simple guitar riffs, then running again chased by the power of drums and feed-backed guitars and all over again.

For those who don’t know Explosions in the Sky, they - like almost all the post-rock bands- perform just instrumental music played with guitars and drums. It’s music that hardly find its perfect setting in a live concert where usually people do anything rather than listen in silence. But Saturday the band was able to catch almost all the 4000 people that crowded the Palladium and make them stand in silence. And, if any, this is probably the great merit of post-rock: to re-introduce the concept of “listening” that, ironically, too often is the last thing that goes along with music.

(Carlo Torniai)

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