Review: Explosions in the Sky at Boulder Theater, 4/5/12

Tom Murphy
Explosions in the Sky at Boulder Theater


Explosions in the Sky began the show on a high note with the familiar, siren-like guitar figure of "First Breath After Coma." Sounds came in waves and then floods, as Chris Hrasky struck an almost martial beat with his snare and propelled the song into the group's signature soaring heights before dropping off completely, like a bird reaching the velocity at which it can glide and perform aerobatic maneuvers to amuse itself.

And these guys never seemed to relent in their energy, only in volume and intensity of sound. It was a sold-out show, and Munaf Rayani still seemed gracious and almost unbelieving that so many people had come to witness the band's keen ability to build and release dynamic atmospheres.

Tom Murphy
Explosions in the Sky at Boulder Theater

During well over an hour and a half of music, Explosions didn't exactly skimp on material, drawing from virtually its entire catalog, and really, it was like all of the songs were linked together by interludes between songs. The fans who were more familiar with the material picked up on which songs these were from those early sonic hints. The band also played a number of the songs from its latest record, Take Care, Take Care, Take Care.

Though all of Explosions' music is instrumental, within each song there are an array of different voices and techniques to produce the sounds. Sure maybe moments of rising sound level and intensity is something you can predict somewhere at some point in a song, often more than once or twice. But it is these cues and textures and specific dynamics that make and made the songs recognizable, especially right after the show.

From filigrees of tone, directed atmospheres, shimmering melodies on the edges of so many songs, Explosions seemed to make every moment count. Certainly everyone on stage appeared completely focused on their music without coming across as stiff, and when the moments where the music seems to crash down on us after wafting off into the rafters for lingering, uncountable moments, the guys in the band jumped and came down with the weight of the sounds they were creating.

One thing that was striking about this performance was how the musicians clearly come together with different elements in different ways to produce a flow like water, guitar streaming like sunlight, structures like the logic inherent in wind with its own flowing dynamics. Together, these ways of arranging the music and executing it was a lot like how those elements bring weather to the world as we know it. In that sense, Explosions in the Sky make elemental music that does have a leg in the electronic, but mostly its aesthetic is informed by organic processes.

Tom Murphy
Explosions in the Sky at the Boulder Theater

The show ended with what sounded like an amped up version of "Let Me Back In," at the end of which, Rayani took duct tape from a roll to first attack his ebow to his guitar and then the whole thing to the stage. From there, he took an object that was difficult to distinguish to make sliding noises on the guitar while wailing at the stage with a tambourine.

He then either looped this or just let the ebow do its work, and he used both hands to hit all around the stage with the tambourine, and in the end, the whole band shut down the sounds at once. Some people were expecting more, but Explosions had given us plenty, and the sheer emotional intensity and exertion of energy displayed by Explosions made an encore, especially after such a blowout among blowouts, seem like a silly idea.

Location Info


Boulder Theater

2032 14th St., Boulder, CO

Category: Music

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