Saturday, September 10, 2011

Explosions In The Sky @ Vogue -- 09/09/11

I (as I am sure most do) have a list of bands I have not yet seen live, and need to. I had the fortune of seeing one of the top three bands on that list earlier this year when My Morning Jacket came through town, and now I have been able to cross off a second from that top three at the Vogue last night. I had heard tale and seen clips of Explosions In The Sky live, and so when they announced a Vancouver date on their latest tour, I knew there would be no power in the 'verse that could stop me from going.

First though, opening the show was Twin Sister from New York, and the best way to describe them would be if Bj√∂rk covered the 80s. The entire decade. The lead singer had a very similar voice -- but much less... shrill -- and the songs were loaded with synth, with kind of a chillwave-indie pop sound to them. The songs were quite catchy, though, and the band had a pretty good stage presence and energy, joking about the "smoke machine" in the crowd and bantering with some of the people up front. Their set seemed to drag on a little toward the end, but was ultimately pretty enjoyable.

Then a little after 10, Explosions In The Sky hit the stage with Munaf Rayani taking the sole microphone to thank the crowd profusely for coming, and especially for selling out the Vogue since it was only their second time in Vancouver. They would be the only words spoken until the end of the set when he thanked us again, as the five of them started off with an older song, "Greet Death", which began softly before bursting forth with an intensity completely unparalleled. With the stage dimly lit -- back lighting for most of the set -- they poured through their instrumental post-rock songs nearing ten minutes in length, transitioning from one to the next seamlessly, with only the briefest moments of calm to catch your breath before more cacophonous crescendos of wailing guitars and crashing drums.
It can be hard, sometimes, for an instrumental band to capture an audience, but even though there wasn't a single word said during their performance, they had each person completely hanging off every note. It was astounding, the scope of epic sound that only five members can make, but it probably helps to have three guitar players.

Most of the songs played were from their last two albums, the newest Take Care, Take Care, Take Care and All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone, but there were some older ones, too, and memorable moments throughout the show. During "The Only Moment We Were Alone", Rayani, on his knees, slowly raised his guitar over his head and thumped the strings -- accompanied by all the lights suddenly raising, bathing the theatre in blinding light. It was one of those moments that sounds cheesy to describe, but was breathtaking to see in context, and will be a sight not soon forgotten.

After almost an hour and a half, they wrapped up the set with Take Care's closing track, "Let Me Back In", playing right up until the curfew, without bothering to stop for the tired faux-encore bit. And even though the crowd was clamouring for more, Rayani came back out after a few minutes to say it was a great show for them, and if it was a great show for us, we should just end on a high note.

And I couldn't have agreed more.

setlist
Greet Death; Last Known Surroundings; Welcome, Ghosts; Trembling Hands; The Only Moment We Were Alone; Be Comfortable, Creature; Postcards From 1952; Your Hand In Mine; The Birth and Death of the Day; Let Me Back In.

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