Tonight, I’m going to dig pretty far back, resolving a couple of incomplete posts that have yet to see the light of day. I’ll spread them across two entries, to ease clutter.
Nearly two months old, the first one focuses on the 20th anniversary of Texas post-rock instrumentalists Explosions in the Sky, who performed at the Hollywood Palladium on 09.12.19.
Yeah, I know, it practically qualifies as a flashback show … or at the very least, exceptionally late to the party. But shit happens, and that’s sometimes the way it goes. Plus, I didn’t want to let this one slide, since it’s a pretty darn great performance.
I’ve seen Explosions a few times prior, once as opener for Nine Inch Nails back in ’13, and next at DTLA’s beautiful Theatre at the Ace in ’16. I’d say their latest performance is my favorite thus far. I guess the third time’s the charm.
It’s hard to believe Explosions have been around for 20 years. I wasn’t aware of them during those early days. I think I caught on around ’08-09. I was working a pretty stressful night shift at a challenging VFX house, and a co-worker recommended them to ease my sleep deprived suffering. My introduction was their’03 album “The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place,” and the seminal single “The Only Moment We Were Alone.” That lead me to the ’07 release “All of A Sudden I Miss Everyone,” as well as a few others.
That’s the extent of my Explosions backstory.
To date, I’m still not sure they’re everyone’s proverbial cup of guitar-infused tea. But hey, they scored the popular ’04 sports film “Friday Night Lights,” as well as featured music in the spin-off TV series, so chances are a lot of people heave heard them without ever hearing of them. And being an instrumental band, their compositions have appeared in a number of indie films, TV episodics and trailers throughout the years. So there’s that.
I’ve read that Explosions don’t really refer to their sound as post-rock, despite sitting comfortably in the genre. And I get that. No one really wants to be categorized by convenient labels. They instead prefer to be viewed as a rock band, plain and simple. And that’s fair.
But in so much as post-rock being defined by extravagant, layered, and lushly intricate guitarwork, I’d say the label’s fair game, as well.
To me, Explosions just feels infused with pure audio emotion. The four-piece possess a densely nuanced sound that cuts right to the core of subliminal feelings and deep thought. It’s often contemplative, melancholic, and somewhat lonely. Yet, it’s also a journey of aural sensations, often resolving in a symphony of hope and optimism. It’s beautiful stuff, and quite rewarding, if you allow yourself to get swept up in its six-string currents of melody and noise.
And it can get noisy, hence the rock part. But it’s all measured and deliberate, progressive in the sense that there’s a build and escalation in sonic intensity. It’s not straightforward music, opting instead for something more orchestrated and symphonic, like a soundtrack or classically minded composition.
Below are 7 tracks from their career-spanning 12 song set at the Hollywood Palladium on 09.12.19. There’s the aforementioned “The Only Moment We Were Alone,” as well as the epic introductory crescendo of “The Birth and Death of the Day,” and the deceptive quietude of “Let Me Back In,” which at a sprawling 10 minutes, tends to surprise with bursts of nuanced feedbacked emotionalism. There’s also four others, which I’ll leave to your discovery.
Explosions in the Sky perform “A Song for Our Fathers” at the Hollywood Palladium on 09.12.19.
Explosions in the Sky perform “The Only Moment We Were Alone” at the Hollywood Palladium on 09.12.19.
Explosions in the Sky perform “Let Me Back In” at the Hollywood Palladium on 09.12.19.
Explosions in the Sky perform “Your Hand in Mine” at the Hollywood Palladium on 09.12.19.
Explosions in the Sky perform “Colors in Space” at the Hollywood Palladium on 09.12.19.
Explosions in the Sky perform “The Birth and Death of the Day” at the Hollywood Palladium on 09.12.19.
Explosions in the Sky perform “Disintegration Anxiety” at the Hollywood Palladium on 09.12.19.
I’ll conclude this belated Explosions in the Sky post with their setlist (as playlist) for their Hollywood Palladium show way back on 09.12.19. It’s a pretty solid collection of selections, drawing from their last two decades of dense songcraft. Of course, it’s hardly enough, considering how long they’ve been at it. But for fans and newcomers alike, it’s a great sampler as reminiscence … or as introduction.
Until the next one …