Explosions In the Sky – [Live]

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Mezzanine section, row 0, seat 212. Located at the very top of the Wiltern; I could almost touch the venue’s ceiling. That increased elevation only accentuated the rush given off by the night’s performers: Austin’s Explosions in the Sky. By the end of the night, lift off was in order. And in this case, a thunderous standing ovation that was equal to the big sound the quartet does on a regular basis. So loud in fact that it drowned out Munaf Rayani’s goodbye thanks to the crowd. Funny, considering an hour and half later when the band first arrived on the stage, the audience was so quiet you could hear a pick drop—Rayani’s opening hellos were met with a dead microphone. Drowned out by expletives and the distracting Chappelle/Lil’ Jon catchphrase that littered the crowd, he skipped said early greetings. Rayani and the rest of the band got down to business. What resulted was a moving performance that peaked at the right moments and softened whenever need be.

The best thing about an Explosions in the Sky show is how complete of a performance it really is. What began with “First Breath After Coma,” ended so perfectly with “Memorial.” Peppered in the middle was a tremendous “Greet Death,” the band soaring above the already uplifting opening. I would be remised if I didn’t give attention to each specific member—each individual giving something different to the table. Switching to electric guitar and bass quite frequently was Michael James who I believe is the spark plug of the group. Hitting heavy bass lines or eliciting a mammoth riff that carries from the floor to the mezzanine are his calling cards. It sort of makes sense that he would be placed right in the middle.

To his right was Mark Smith, whose pristine guitar work goes a long way. Though not as visceral in terms of performance when compared to James or Rayani, his work is ever so present and can be seen as the light, if you will, of the group. If Smith is the light, then drummer Chris Hrasky is undoubtedly the thunder as the large fills are done with a degree of ease. All that’s left is Rayani, who I dub the anchor of the group. What can be said about Rayani that hasn’t been already mentioned? The dude gets really into it. Rayani was all over the place (even on the floor at times). Still the audience was enthralled, captivated with each and every move.

As I sat in the back, just absorbing the performance, I often created images that were synonymous with the music. I often see the band’s music as a soundtrack to life itself: from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. As I sat and watched the show I felt really good just being there. I felt that I had to say thank you but someone already said it, rather, shouted it, as the guitars grew gentle. I’m glad someone said it, as it was sentiment shared by all.

More on Explosions in the Sky here: and

Download – “Welcome, Ghosts” from All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone – [mp3]

Related articles: Interview with Explosions in the Sky drummer Chris Hrasky

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