Monday, March 26, 2007

Explosions In The Sky - Live @ Webster Hall, NYC (Show Review)

ps. i didnt have a pic but this is what it looked like - from the Bowery Ballroom a year earlier

So I saw Explosions In The Sky last Tuesday night with Lara. They played at Webster Hall in NYC. The bill was Eluvium / Paper Chase / Explosions in the Sky. Since Webster hall has an upstairs balcony with a real good view of the stage we wanted to get there early so we showed up shortly before Eluvium started the evening.

We checked the merch table on our way upstairs. I wanted to buy the 2xLP of the new record and they had a cool falcon t-shirt that Lara thought was cool. So we found our good balcony seats and I went to buy beer, a shirt and record. There were already a number of people in the balcony and a girl almost stepped all over our shit, almost breaking my record! I swear I thought I heard a snap. I opened it to check and noticed everything was fine, and also noticed the vinyl was quite cool. Three sided double LP, with the fourth sied etched with the cover artwork. The first disc is an off white vinyl with flecks of color in it and the second, with the etched artwork, is a dark cool green marble vinyl. Very heavy vinyl too. The artwork is great and it came with a disk of the remixes.

Eluvium was good. One guy, Matthew Cooper, came on stage silenty and played a number of his ambient guitar and keyboard loops. The songs were extremely loud at points and while the tracks were nice, one of them especially, it was not the most enjoyable music to watch in a live setting. Cooper just play some keys and strings and makes the loops and layers all these tones. It is very cool in practice and in theory, but does not rock your socks off like most live music.

The Paper Chase played next. I had heard them before and thought they were a weird band to tour with them. But they are from Texas, and I suppose the Explosions guys are fans. Either way I think its a cool way to get people into a different kind of music. Unfortunately, The Paper Chase was not something I was bound to be into. They had rocking passion, good stage presence, and a unique discordant sound, mostly piano based, that would break into heavy forceful sections, with the guitarist adding notes in the same squiggly way each song. It all started to sound the same, with a dark brooding beginning and rocking breakdown or two in each song. The lyrics are all seemingly disturbed and deeply emotional which the singer made very apparent in his jerky stage gestures. It all came off as a little theatrical and got old quick. We wanted some explosions.

So Explosions in the Sky came on very humbly and took their positions amid a variety of pedals. The two guitarists Mark Smith and Munaf Rayani, staged left and right, held little devices near the pickups, some sort of sustain device, or feedback thing... whatever it was it sounded incredible. They traded tones while the bassist Michael James began the melody, Memorial, I believe...if my memory is right. They played clear and precise and finished the song with amazing fanfare, completely rocking out of their minds. It was really great, especially Munaf Rayani going completely berserk. We knew it was gonna be a good show. They had some gear that allowed them to loop the last sounds from the previous song and slowly work into the next song which was Birth and Death of the Day off of their new album. It was an incredible song and had double the passion of the recorded version. The band has a very great stage presence, all into their instruments. Drummer Chris Hrasky is fluid and amazing on the drums and drops all these amazing fills yet can play so restrained and lightly. Just dropping gems everywhere. Michael James switched from bass to guitar on a few songs, though I think it was a baritone guitar. He plays so fast to get some of those chiming melodies when theyre rocking out. All of them do really. And when all of their respective parts hit the same downbeat it is total synchronicity.

All of the songs were played so amazing it is hard to separate them, but I had two favorites I wanted to hear really badly. I was beginning to give up hope of hearing them when they closed the show with Moon Is Down... was fucking radical! yes... it really was. humbling and beautiful... that weeping guitar part in the middle, played to such perfection, the martial drumming, slowly building. Man! it was really good. as the song climaxed Munaf duck taped his guitar over the pickups producing a steady and solid feedback tone while the band rocked the shit out of the crowd. Then he takes another little device and uses it on his guitar like a slide guitar. That is how they make that constant soaring guitar tone at the end of the song. I always wondered how it goes on forever and ever. Well, it was gnarly as hell. The band rocked the ending of that song about 50 times harder then on the record, going nuts on stage. Munaf grabbed a tambourine and basically destroyed it in time with the music. All of it was simply mindblowing that when the band finished I wished that it was the end of the show... It was just too perfect to top. The whole show flowed perfectly from the beginning to that last song, and it wouldve undermined the power of that last song if they did just one more song. The setlist was great and that was that... Amazingly, and probably to the dismay of many, Munaf Rayani came back and and simply said thanks and that there was no encore, and that was it. I guess they felt the same way about that ending. It was just too choice.

Here is the set list to the best of my knowledge:
1. Memorial
2. The Birth and Death of the Day
3. It's Natural To Be Afraid
4. Welcome, Ghosts
5. Yasmin the Light
6. The Only Moment We Were Alone
7. Greet Death
8. Catastrophe and the Cure
9. Moon Is Down

Also. Here is my favorite Explosions album. Every song is beautiful and haunting. It is one of the best albums I own and also has some beautiful album artwork.

Explosions In The Sky - Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever (2002)

Thanks to Alexd.


Anonymous neil said...

That set list doesn't have Your Hand In Mine. I'm fairly sure when I drive to San Francisco from LA and they don't play that song, I'm going to have to destroy something. I love them dearly, but that song is the song I decided (morbidly) would be the song I die to.

7:52 PM  
Blogger blend77 said...

Haha!! I dont know what it is with them, but I swear, I want Moon is Down to be that song for me...

Yeah, Your Hand In Mine and With Tired Eyes are two songs I wish they played.

10:04 PM  
Blogger Jack Goodlet said...

Aww, man. That sounds fantastic. Sounds like the things they were using at the start were E-bows. These little plastic devices that emit an electromagnetic current that can leave a guitar note going foreverrrr. Cool blog. Will have to check it out more closely.

2:21 AM  

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