Explosions in the Sky– the violence in awaiting their performance; adrenaline rushing through blood-pumping veins; excitement– dilated pupils, and keenly watching the stages with ears perked up, fists clenched, and tight corners of the lips. A Friday night to be filled with mind-expanding, eye-opening, and soul satisfying post-rock, lights, and passion; ACL Live at the Moody Theater was the place to be.
Opening the night was charismatic Austin based, Ola Podrida. With a sweet southern voice, sounding as though it has been soaked in molasses and tenderness, Ola Podrida performed tracks from their self-titled album, Ola Podrida, and their latest album, Belly Of The Lion. Masters of their own style and craft, Ola Podrida performed vigorously and beautifully.
After much anticipation, Explosions in the Sky came walking out to a cover of “These Days”; a feeling of warmth encompassed the venue as the band walked up to the stage with Munaf Rayani saying, “Hello, hello, hello! Tonight, we play with all of our hearts, and tonight you listen with all of yours.” Of course, among the roaring of the audience, Explosions in the Sky performed a track that embodies the essence of the band perfectly. From their 2003 album, The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place, Explosions opened with “The Only Moment We Were Alone”, luring the audience into tricks of silence, suspension, anticipation, and ending with more soul, more passion, more strength than their vinyl record could ever convey. Their first track, ten minutes long, gave the audience a first feel for the band’s heart that evenings– and the way they closed that track rushed the audience with excitement and cheers, because they undoubtedly had heart, and that first track was only the beginning of the night.
Closing out their opening track was like watching firemen put out a fire of the century– there was so much sweat and intensity– Explosions in the Sky trailed into the first track on their latest album released in late April 2011, Take Care, Take Care, Take Care— the creepy track that opens with the sounds of a million ghosts racing– racing each other past your ear into infinite, but damned, fields; “Last Known Surroundings”. Also performed that evening from their new album was “Postcard from 1952 “.
Performed that evening–bringing more energy and magic that I have mistakenly overlooked repeatedly– from their 2001 album, Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Live Forever, was “With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept”. During “Catastrophe and the Cure”, guitarist Munaf Rayani, dripping of sweat, passion, removed his guitar to join percussionist, Chris Hrasky for a heavily drummed part of the track. Continuing the evening with some of their most familiar, and beloved tracks– crowd pleasers, if you will– Explosions destroyed the stage with an abundance of soul-awakening, epiphany-triggering intensity with “The Birth and the Death of Day” and “Your Hand in Mine”.
Explosions in the Sky closed the brilliant night out with one last track from their latest album– again with the haunting yet alluring sounds of racing, echoing ghosts–“”Let Me Back In”. Walking away with a few thank yous, encore-less, but completely mesmerizing and absolutely satisfying.
Explosions in the Sky was born to perform in Moody Theater. The acoustics, the lights, the seating, the acoustics, the acoustics, the brilliant acoustics that embedded every single person in the venue’s billions of cells– their core, their bones– in absolutely madness, in undeniably ingenious chaos. Each cell was to shake and tremble with the dissonance, distortion, and melodic tones orchestrated by Explosions in the Sky. Reverb, distortion, and echoes are major components in the full Explosions experience. The band’s performance in May at The Backyard with Arcade Fire was nothing short of beautiful, but despite the golden hue of the sun, their sound simply bled into the backroads, forests, and suburbs. They truly sound best when you’re swimming in a mastered chaos of sound, completely vulnerable, completely aware of every piercing chord, haunting pause, passionate pounding of the drums, and painfully lonesome guitar strum.
(Explosions in the Sky performed at ACL Live on June 17, 2011)