I am always hesitant to venture out to those medium-size concert venues with a bar in the back — like Metro, Aragon, Riv, Vic, etc. — while in Chicago, if only because it seems like a production to me. There are always too many lights, too many drunken yuppies and never enough love circulating. I like getting my ears blown out at the Double Door or pissing with the door open at the Empty Bottle. There is an intimacy that comes with a club/joint/spot that is unmatched by any multi-use venue. Over my concert-going years, I have only contradicted my better judgment a few times and only for some of my favorite bands such as My Morning Jacket or The White Stripes. Sometimes you have to suck it up and admit that the band that was once your darling is now everyone’s darling and they are going to shine a brighter light. No worries, really, just show up a little earlier and bring some booms!
[I just wanted to get you excited as well; kind of like putting on 3-D glasses]
Explosions in the Sky Live at Reckless Records – You Tube
(Yasmin the Light, Once More to the Afterlife, Greet Death)
So when it was time to join the established clique of Explosions in the Sky supporters, I was a bit disappointed that my initiation would have to be at the House of Blues-like Pageant in St. Louis. No disrespect to the Lou. I was visiting friends in the dental school capital of the world across the river in Alton, IL. But I would have loved to see them rock the Mohawk or Antone’s in their native Austin.
But sometimes a fish gets to big for its pond and we end up at the Shedd Aquarium. Well, after literally seeing explosions in the sky, I am positive that if Explosions in the Sky played Mexico City, I would be there. I mean, I’d rather see them at an in-store at Reckless, but alas, I think that moment has passed. There’s always memories…and You Tube.
This band is that good. I found myself applauding not only the beauty of the songs, which was plentiful, but their craftsmanship in the way you would applaud a magician that just made an elephant disappear. Each song is birthed in a slow tremor of feedback along side the beginnings of synchronized looping before the string trio of Mark Smith (guitar), Michael James (bass) and Munaf Rayani (guitar) settle into step with drummer Christopher Hrasky. This cohesive blend of noise then becomes miraculously melodic and a groove sets in that is more emancipating than celebratory. The groove begins to quicken in pulse until each member of the band (especially Rayani) is pouring every inch of their masculinity into an emotionally naked statement failed by words and revived by their absence. The band then exhales all the building-up and explodes on the audience, usually in unison. It’s f***ing crazy to see three men reach back and punch their strings like schoolyard bullies in perfect harmony. It was so intense that I felt like Naomi Watts in Mullholand Dr., watching something deeply emotional in a language she didn’t understand yet completely crumbling under the weight of that emotion.
Yeah, go see them.
Or, at least get your internet fix at the archives.