last night in live music: explosions in the sky
Last night was a treat. One of my favorite Austin bands, Explosions in the Sky, played a $10 show that you could only get into if you are a UT student. (I am all for great bands playing at Hogg Auditorium for cheap and making it easy for me to get in; the fact that it was a band I like made it even better.) The fact that they lied and didn't check ID's like they said they would made it even more amusing - anybody could've gotten a ticket, but the sold-out show was almost entirely students.
For those of you not familiar with EITS, they play all-instrumental rock songs that last 8-12 minutes apiece. I know. It sounds terrible. The story of how it came to pass that I wound up loving a band that doesn't even sing is a little long. It all started in the summer of 2004, when Dave mentioned that his friends' band was out in Midland recording the soundtrack for the film of H.G. Bissinger's Friday Night Lights. When we saw the movie, I did enjoy the music, but I didn't think much more of it. Then the D.A. came back to town before he moved back up north, and he kept going on and on about how fantastic The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place is and making everyone he knew listen to the album. I know I didn't pay attention then, but, anyway, at some point that spring, I picked up the album at Waterloo and was immediately hooked by their beautiful indie rock and the depth of emotion in the songs. It's the album I listen to when I'm flying over the Atlantic and can't sleep. There's something about it that captures the essence of confusion, hope, fear, and love in a way that is almost universally understandable, if you're willing to listen.
Again, it sounds terrible. But it isn't. It's not background music; the absence of lyrics leaves the musicians free to fully explore the range of their instruments. Each album needs to be heard as a whole, but each song completes an arc of its own, weaving the whole into a haunting story. To quote the guy we "got" to listen to last night while walking out in front of him, "It's pure, like, emotion, man...The way it makes you feel, it's all confusing and stuff."
Exactly. Last night's show basically played through the new album, then moved into a great sample of songs from their earlier work. By the time they got to "Your Hand in Mine," my mind was on the faces of those children in Sake and hopeless regrets and a conversation nine months ago that said nothing at all and everything there was to say. Yeah, it's like that.
All in all, the set was great. When EITS takes the stage, they play for a solid 70 minutes, no breaks, no encores. The music's story doesn't work if they stop, and they end by throwing down their guitars. It's almost impossible to explain if you weren't there. Explosions in the Sky is pure emotion, simple and complex, personal and universal. And I loved it.