Thursday, October 6, 2011

Explosions in the Sky - Orpheum Theater, Boston

Explosions in the Sky
Orpheum Theater, Boston, MA
Wednesday October 5, 2011

Support – The Antlers

Walking down the alley towards the historic Orpheum Theater had me feeling a bit worried. How would this post rock band from Texas handle the theater crowd? Blending some of the quietest to suddenly loudest music your mind, ear and soul can bear it was actually the audience I was worried about. Would they clap at the wrong time? Would the calmness of a moment result in the random yelps from the audience? Yes on both questions, but Explosions In The Sky had everyone in the palm of their hand few would mind.

Arriving on stage at 8:45 the members went to their instruments. To the left was guitarist Mark Smith, Mike James, who played more guitar than bass this time around, in the center, drummer Chris Hransky on drums, touring bassist Carlos Torres to his left and Munaf Rayani to the right. Munaf is the lone person with a microphone and all it is used for is to say hello and goodbye. Okay, so he said more than that, but other than a polite, and very humble “thank you for coming and listening to our music” the band strapped in and started the 90 minute set with “The Only Moment We Were Alone”, the second track off the album “The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place”. Over the course of the next ten minutes the wall of sound, the flailing bodies worked ear drums like a speed bag. Smith is rather calm for the bulk of the show but James and Rayani punch their guitars like they did something wrong.

For “Greet Death” James would strap on his bass and continue to beat it like it stole something from him raising it high above his head and Rayani would peel his guitar off and drag it back and forth from front to back along the floor. The song transitions to a cool calm feel at which point Rayani remained on the floor teasing his strings with a small metallic object and off setting it with a slide. Smith ran a loop effect on his guitar as the track winds down, and its looping scratch rung in the halls seemingly for minutes after. The band rolled forward on the epic “Six Days at the Bottom of the Ocean” and the long slow build up found Hransky hitting the floor tom to a venue shaking rumble, he'd do it a few times and the band grew in urgency as the guitars seemed to be coming from all sides.

Even with all this wall of sound it was fun to pan the audience from time to time to look at faces. Some jaws slightly dropped, others just with their eyes closed waving head from side to side, others squirming in their seats wishing everyone else would just stand up already. Not a face was seen of frustration, just a gentle calm in an very loud setting.

Songs would have quiet build ups and the audience was on the edge of their seat. Many seeming to wait for the right time to let it all out. Even this reviewer was hard pressed to not shout a joyous roar of approval. The audience seemed to know the right time and even shouting song requests were kept to the quiet transitions between tracks.

On what turned out to be the final song of the evening in “The Moon is Down” Rayani the band took the usual long epic build up which then found him huddled on the floor toggling with his array of effect pedals. Next thing you know he pulls out an ebow (a device that sends a signal to a guitar sting for a long continuous drone type sound) and tapes the device to his guitar that is now laying on the floor. Still on his knees Rayani takes to a tambourine and just hits it as hard as he can on the floor over and over.

Then, it ends. The audience shoots to their feet, hands over head and letting the last 90 minutes of pent up adoration pour out. Hransky rises from his drum kit, waves as does James and Smith. Rayani takes to the microphone once more and in the calmest and sincerest tone thanks us again for “our time” and “lending them our ears”. The band, who never encores, was hardly off the stage before the house lights came up.

The full set.
The Only Moment We Were Alone
Last Known Surroundings
Catastrophe and the Cure
Postcards from 1952
Greet Death
Six Days at the Bottom of the Ocean
Let Me Back In
The Birth and Death of the The Day
The Moon is Down

Walking in to the cool Boston night the muttering of “awesome” and “just epic” were heard more than once as people pulled earplugs out and had smiles seemingly from ear to ear. Explosions in the Sky continue to shine in a live setting.

Few other quick shots from the iPhone.

The obligatory marquee picture:

This is Munaf Rayani tuning up before the show.
This is Mark Smith tuning up.
The very top picutre was the lone one I took "in action".



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