POST#38: Explosions in the Sky: Fresh music and a fresh concert...

Now playing:
Carissa's Wierd - So You Wanna Be A Superhero
via FoxyTunes

So, last night I bravely went to a concert by myself. It is only the second time that I have willingly gone to a concert by myself. The first was back in 1988, when I had won a ticket to see Ladysmith Black Mambazo, from KRCL FM. It was a single, solitary ticket, and it was a reserved seating show at Kingsbury Hall. A good concert, though. It was fairly fresh on the heals of their international success of Paul Simon's "Graceland". Anyhow, that was another time, and in reality, a different story.

I actually attended another concert by myself, although that was supposed to be a concert where I met a friend. The show was Alice Cooper, 2006. My friend, Brent, had told me how great an Alice Cooper concert was, and suggested I go. I was to meet him, and a few of his friends. Anyhow, due to cell phone problems, the last I had heard of him was when they were traveling to Saltair, the venue where the concert took place. I had secured a rather decent position about 20-25 feet from the stage, and didn't want to lose my spot, so I stayed put and looked for him throughout the show, without venturing around. Regardless, I didn't see him throughout the rest of the show, or following the concert, but it was all worth while. Another concert that should be in my top 10, without a doubt.

Now, onto the true story at hand: EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY. So, last Fall I am watching an episode of AUSTIN CITY LIMITS, which I record on my TiVo. A season pass, for those of you who have the wonderful TiVo. Anyhow, this band struck me like no other band I had ever seen. I was truly mesmerized, and immediately went out in search of one of their discs. I was fortunate enough to find their first CD, which the handy Graywhale CD clerk told me was probably their best. Anyhow, I find out last week that these guys are playing in Salt Lake, and I ask Tiffany if I can go. She asks me if I have any friends that would want to go, but after pondering the situation, I can't think of anyone that I know that even know who this band is. I take the plunge and buy a single, solitary ticket. No problem.

So, last night (March 24th), I get to the venue at 7:00 PM, which is when the show is slated to begin. I spend the next hour and ten minutes in line, short sleeve shirt and shorts, not to mention sandals. The sun had gone down, and the air was brisk. I probably would have been comfortable, if it weren't for the fact I had the sandals, and a definite need to urinate. The funny thing is that a guy that was behind me ran across the street and relieved himself on a fence, next to a building. The truly humorous part was that as soon as he started, a Salt Lake City police officer drove by, but was focused on the crowd instead of the guy relieving himself ten feet out his passenger door. Anyhow, the guy made it back without any legal problems, and we quickly made it inside In The Venue, the club where the show was taking place. Oh, another quick story about the bold urinating kid. He got back into line, and the security guard tried kicking him to the end of the line, which was significant at this point. He told the kid that he hadn't seen him in line, although he had been behind me for nearly an hour. I stood up for the guy, told the security guy that he had been there, and that I didn't know him, so I wasn't just a friend defending a buddy. Anyhow, let's get onto the concert.

The opening act was LICHENS, which is actually an African-American guy with Buckwheat hair and a crazy mustache. I will transfer the record review that I found online to help summarize what Lichens was all about.


styles: ambient, post-rock
others: Port-Royal, Wounded Knee, Mogwai

The Psychic Nature Of Being
Kranky, 2005
rating: 4/5
reviewer: filmore mescalito holmes

I'm not sure what it is, but when Robert Lowe, referred to as Lichens in the studio, gets humming melancholia and picking/strumming his acoustic guitar over some strained mechanical effect, I am driven by trance to witness the slowly spinning spirit of Jim Morrison with his hands outstretched like an airplane bouncing around a bonfire in slow motion slightly offbeat. Lucky for me, there are only three tracks on The Psychic Nature Of Being, so this doesn't happen too often. Naturally, this is a quite progressive album –tracks often beginning with only some field recordings or a layered vocal effect before building into much, much more – but it's not needlessly so, for these three songs are all one-time, one-take sessions of Lichens on his own at three different locations with no overdubbing or editing whatsoever. When I first threw this on, I just kinda spaced out to the drones that would become sounds. Out of the blue, I was awoken by the seeming reincarnation of The Doors at their most tribal and psychedelic, possibly during an extended jam of "The End." Then, scrambling for the press release, I was further befuddled to discover these were mere one-offs recorded in real time. In short, this CD gave my mind a blow job.

Does that make sense? I want to add that the opinions in the previous review are MOSTLY opinions that I would write, with the possible exception of the last line. Anyhow, Lichens (or Robert Lowe) did that very thing. He had a sampling instrument (computer?) that layered different sounds that he had made during the performance. He began by simulating cricket sounds with his mouth, and then proceeded to create atmospheric noise on his guitar, including some fantastic work with the eBow. I can't get enough eBow, so nevertheless, I was very happy with his performance. By the end of the song there was entire symphony of sounds, from vocals to guitar to simulated crickets. I will definitely pick up this CD. His other work sounds different, as he collaborates with different people.

As far as the headliner, EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY, here is more information about them:

Explosions In The Sky is an American instrumental post-rock band which formed in Austin, Texas in 1999. Munaf Rayani, Mark Smith, and Michael James had just moved to Austin from Midland, Texas, and drummer Chris Hrasky had just moved to Austin from Rockford, Illinois.

The band quickly gained a reputation for their live shows even amongst other established local bands such as Lift To Experience. They also garnered a small amount of media attention as a result of their second album, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever, due to rumors linking it to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks - The album was released in late August 2001, with liner notes containing a picture of an airplane and the text "This Plane Will Crash Tomorrow".

"The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place" is their third full-length album (counting "How Strange, Innocence" as their debut, see below). It shows the band has developed their characteristic sound to its full potential and the album has been critically acclaimed.

Friday Night Lights, the football movie based on the book of the same name, featured a soundtrack consisting mostly of songs by Explosions in the Sky, both original (as found on the Friday Night Lights soundtrack ) and from earlier releases. They are also frequently played in the TV-series sharing the name.

21: The Rescue, an experimental work for which the band sat down for eight days creating a song for each. The clapping and finger snapping on "Day Eight" is a good example of a harmonic restructuring of their old sound.

How Strange, Innocence, the band's debut album, was finally remastered and re-released, making it accessible to a much larger audience. The first pressing consisted of only 300 CD-Rs that the band would later regret handing out as they felt the work to be naive, musically simple and not up to their standards. They have since learned to love, as well as hate, their debut as a showcase of their emotional range and emerging talent.

The newest full-length album, entitled 'All Of A Sudden, I Miss Everyone' came out as of February 20th, 2007. The band is now on an extensive tour supporting the release.

Munaf Rayani - guitar

Mark Smith - guitar

Michael James - bass/electric guitar

Chris Hrasky - drums

The set was comprised of multiple songs, in one continuous flow of music. Not a concert to blow you away visually, it is aurally hypnotic. The music created by the two guitarists just melts together in a beautiful, seamless work of art. Accented by bass guitar, their music ebbs and flows from the quiet and surreal to an over-the-top cacophony of noise. Suffering from some extreme allergies, I was finally forced to leave my perch on the balcony, complete with a remarkable view of the stage, to the downstairs bathroom to fetch some toilet paper to blow my nose. I decided at that point that this concert was not about "watching", although it was interesting to see what sounds they could make by playing with any numbers of effect pedals, including the leader bouncing his guitar gently off the stage, creating an interesting thud sound that blended beautifully into the music.

Regardless, this band is just what you need, if you have grown tired of music in general. They are completely original, and although they are best in smaller doses, they will bring a breath of fresh air to an otherwise often tiresome world of music.


April said…
okay so half of that story I couldn't read because the print became smaller and smaller and smaller....I'm gettin old and can't squint that good!!!!
Uncle Zeke said…
Sorry... I copied and pasted the description and TRIED to enlarge it. No luck. I will try again... but thanks for trying, anyhow!
Uncle Zeke said…
Another thing I noticed... there is a link to "read original post", and it brings up the story on a sidebar, which is standard text. Try that out, if'n your interested!