Bruised and bloody knees from venturing the dusty, rocky lot in The Backyard. Arcade Fire and Explosions in the Sky dragged Austinites out to the Bee Caves for a show of a lifetime. After a few cool and windy days, the epitome of summer blew gently in the breeze and glared softly in the cloudless sky.
Opening up the evening early, was all-girl rock band and Austin locals, Schmillion. The petite rock stars definitely show promise. The band was named by CNN blogger Jamie Gumbrech as one of the Top 5 bands to see during South by Southwest. In addition that, it has been identified that one of the musicians in Schmillion was actually featured in an Arcade Fire music video (“The Suburbs”). During their track, “Overgrown,” their style exuded in a youthful creativity. In the right hands with the right tools, it is inevitable that Schmillion will be sticking around for a while and be a name for bad-ass women everywhere.
As the sun began to set with a viscous, golden hue, Explosions in the Sky took the stage and captured the audience with “The Only Moment We Were Alone”. Explosion’s emotive orchestrations beat against the stillness of the Bee Caves as the audience stood still and watched. The haunting echoes of “Last Known Surroundings” reoccurred in an older favorite “The Birth and the Death of Day”. Though, performing a few tracks from All of a Sudden, I Miss Everyone (2007), Explosions in the Sky also showcased tracks from their latest album, Take Care, Take Care, Take Care, released in late April 2011. Their peculiar way of tip-toeing in the atmosphere with whispering frequencies and timid vibrations, and then lunging their bodies into a a whirlwind of sonorous chaos was undeniably alluring. Notoriously, Explosions in the Sky sounds and feels moving, witnessing the musicians themselves play and dance among the red, setting sun was a spectacular experience.
After a decent wait, a couple of giant movie billboards that read “Coming Soon: Arcade Fire”, and as the impatience of eager fans grew, Woodland natives and suburban survivors, Arcade Fire came out. The band first performed “Month of May” with the giant film screen in the back showing fitting clips of judgement day. From their first album, Funeral (2004), Arcade Fire performed all three of the “Neighborhood” tracks, “Rebellion (Lies)”, and “Haiti”. The band did not fail to mention that $1.00 of ticket sales will be donated to a non-profit organization that seek to help the impoverished people in Haiti.
Performed from their sophomore album, Neon Bible (2007), was their beloved single “No Cars Go”– to which most of the audience danced and sang along to. From the same album, Win Butler dedicated “Intervention” to “everyone whose parents made them go to church, but didn’t tell them everything”.
From their latest album, they performed their single– part 2 merged at the end of part 1– “The Suburbs”, featuring the music video on the background during their performance.
Arcade Fire saved the most anticipated tracks for last, going out with a brilliant-music-induced high and a huge bang. They clearly saved their energy for “Ready to Start”, and “Wake Up”, both tracks to which the entire audience engaged and sang wide-mouthed at the top of their lungs. Closing out the unbelievable evening of brilliant stage lights, cinematography, costumes, and Arcade Fire’s best tracks, the band ended the evening with the stage coated in dark red lights, and an incredible performance of “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”.
The fascinating thing about being at The Backyard is– in comparison to experiencing a show in the city– when you look up at the night sky as the live music is resonating through your bones and you’re on the brink of both, deafness and ecstasy, instead of seeing condominiums or rundown buildings, or smelling sewage, and inhaling dust– there was a clear black sky twinkling with stars, adding even more magic to the progressive orchestrations of xxplosions and the absolute beauty of Arcade Fire’s performance.
(Arcade Fire performed at The Backyard on May 3, 2011)