Explosions In The Sky played to a sold-out crowd last night at The Fox Theater in Oakland and all at once — at least for the duration of their hour-long set — everything seemed to fall into place.
Each note, each hit, each layer was more driven and purposeful than the last. Each decibel of sound was a celebration, not of life (and certainly not of death) but of living.
When the Austin-based band released its third studio album The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place in 2003, it changed the role that instrumental music held in mainstream music permanently. There were, of course, bands before Explosions – Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Mogwai, Do Make Say Think, Pelican, Mono, Don Caballero, etc. – but the music of Explosions In The Sky, and this album particularly, had a way of connecting with a larger-scale, more mainstream audience.
Instrumental post-rock quickly turned from a niche market to a viable, self-sustaining, rapidly expanding genre. Mutually beneficial for all, the genre was fueled by the influx of newcomers under the spell of influence and we welcomed each composition with open arms and eager ears. But the band I kept returning to again and again was Explosions In The Sky. Its no-fail consistency was never less than stunning, their precision in the construction of each song was unwavering and the towering crescendos bordered on being downright gleeful. They were solid gold.
The same could be said of their performance last night. As just under 3,000 people looked on in utter admiration, the band jumped between songs from their latest release, Take Care, Take Care, Take Care, and older pieces, each getting the same blissful response from the crowd: shouts of joy and grins as wide as Texas. I even saw a merry looking couple perform what appeared to be a jig, complete with a do-si-do, without an ounce of irony or self-consciousness. A band that can prompt that kind of fancy dancing from a couple of tattooed twenty-somethings is really onto something.
Maybe it felt kind of amazing that while some in this country were out celebrating the murder of another human being, we were in a theater celebrating the creation of beauty aided by a soundtrack of pure positivity. Explosions In The Sky evoke these feelings. Their compositions embody the cycles of life and living and we, the crowd, looked on as each piece fit together to form a massive cloud that eventually burst and the notes fell, shimmering, all around us. I left, as most appeared to, altered and lifted. As each of us jigged and jogged back to our homes, eyes shining and ears filled with solid gold, I think we all felt content that this band remains the constant, shining light within ten-plus years of creation.
Check out the SF Station Photo Gallery from this show.