Wed 6 Apr – Explosions in the Sky, Low, Eluvium
I’ve gone to concerts at Radio City Music Hall before. Usually they feel a bit stuffy due to me sitting down and politely casting judgment from the nosebleed seats. Tonight that didn’t happen. Instead, I found myself enjoying some of the benefits of having a giant room and seats.
Eluvium came up first. He introduced himself with a brief “Good Evening” and proceeded to play for a short period of time. While I’d like to comment more on his performance, I happened to constantly hear the crackling of plastic candy around me which distracted me. So from what I could focus on he appeared to be a more indie version of George Winston. The playing was moody which fit the rather awful weather had tonight.
Low came up next. They were sweeter than I expected them to be. When I hear their music, I think of the best kind of loving-making music. Keep in mind as I say this I’m a giant music nerd. Some of my friends have informed me this distinction is held by Belle & Sebastian. I’d like to change that to these wonderful people from Duluth, Minnesota who virtually embodies Minnesota nice.
For this concert they had a quartet. All the songs were from their new album “C’mon”. In a live setting, I felt the album really does show a mixture between their “Things We Lost in the Fire” and “I could live in Hope” periods. Most of the songs were extremely quiet and slow. I’m not sure how many in the audience were as excited as I was for them, but I did hear a few ‘I love these guys’ so I’m glad I wasn’t alone.
Actually, Low being there was the reason I decided to go in the first place. I’d never seen them before. Getting tickets to a concert just to see one of the opening acts probably cements my reputation as a Hipster, in case seeing Animal Collective twice didn’t already do that for me. But Low deserve it. They continually put out a good product.
“Try to Sleep” started things up, followed by my personal favorite “You See Everything”, then “Nightingale” a few others, finishing off with a loud “Nothing But Heart”. If I had a problem with their set, it was probably a slight displeasure with the bassist. Occasionally I felt the bassist was on a different page than the rest of the band. Usually this wouldn’t be noticeable, but in a band as quiet and dependent on the low end as Low, it irked me ever so slightly. When they ended people clapped but I wished they clapped harder. Low does something so unusual in the music world by following their own muse rather than making naked grabs at the latest trends. Few bands have the guts to do that, so I respect them for the decision.
Explosions in the Sky are a band I enjoy quite a band. When Post-Rock sort of fell by the wayside, these guys were just starting out. I felt bad for them as they were fairly excellent. They were resigning themselves to a genre with diminishing returns. Bands that get into these fading away genres can get ignored despite their obvious quality.
Since they were the headlining act, they avoided such a fate. Before they began, they started out with heartfelt thanks towards the preceding two acts, particularly Low. As Explosions in the Sky excels at some of the quieter, more tender aspects of its sound, it didn’t shock me they considered Low a class act. I’m glad they brought Low in for the ride.
What made them so interesting is their penchant for avoiding some of the Post-Rock template. Build-ups were there for sure, but they also randomly explode. This isn’t so much intellectual music as it is emotional. I didn’t realize a few people could make so much or so little sound. A few moments they literally stopped on a dime. Or the opposite would happen as their guitars propelled us to the sky.
Perhaps their name is apt. They do well both in an almost shoegaze setting, with mellow guitar interplay. Sometimes they explode into glorious color, all the while never missing sight of the other players. Everyone on stage worked together to make the songs work; there weren’t any solos, a real rarity for a genre that embraces them.
I hope someday soon when the 90s begin getting mined for material Post-Rock becomes one of those old genres newly embraced. As new bands discover the joy of Post-Rock, they’ll notice Explosions in the Sky kept the seat warm for them.