Explosions in the Sky fizzle at Lupo’s

A review of Explosions in the Sky at Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel on April 5, 2008

, Staff Writer

Listening to Explosions in the Sky can make nearly anything an epic experience. As a soundtrack to everyday life it lends gravity to such insignificant events as driving in the rain, walking down the street, or even sitting and people watching. But unfortunatlely, as their show Saturday night at Lupo’s proved, sitting and watching Explosions in the Sky play that same music does not stand up on its own.

It’s not that the band wasn’t good. The foursome recreated their cinematic compostions note for note, producing a wall of sound& capable of flattening concertgoers. It was a problem of scale, as the sold out crowd had high expectations for a life-changing experience, and there was no possibility of that happening.

It was the ultimate shoegaze show, as the seated crowd watched the totally absorbed band play songs from The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place, All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone, and Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever with little to distinguish one song from the other. Sure there were different harmonies and different keys, but the tempo never shifted outside of a narrow range and there was essentially no rhythmic variation from song to song. The band has mastered the art of dynamics and are able to build songs to monumental heights, but that one trick can only carry them so far in the live setting.

Drummer Chris Hrasky rode his crash cymbal to the point that it lost all effect, and the constant driving 4 / 4 time made every song meld into one long, uninterupted whole. It didn’t help that nobody in the band addressed, or even seemed to acknowledge the crowd.

The music of Explosions in the Sky is often described as cinematic. Consider the difference between watching a film with a good score and watching a symphony perform the score. Sure, it will have its high points, but without the movie you lose the effect. Watching Explosions live places the music front and center as something to focus on, and it doesn’t hold up under the scrutiny.

Majestic, ethereal, intense, and grandiose all work to describe the show. But after an hour and a half of repetitive song structures, tempos, and rhythms, so do indulgent, uninteresting, and boring. Explosions in the Sky will still soundtrack the mundane moments of my life, but their live shows will not be a part of it.

Leave a Reply