An old friend introduced me to Explosions In The Sky when I was 14; the key that unlocked an unexplored realm of alternative music and independent artists.
For years, I worshiped 'The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place'; partly for its ingenuity, its sense of warmth and hope, and its tying together of five, diverse pieces to produce an epic, emotion-tugging journey, but partly for the personal sentiments attached to it.
Seeing the band perform live has been on my bucket list for almost a decade, and even with the hype, they still exceeded my expectations.
Explosions In The Sky neither sauntered nor strolled onto the QPAC stage (24 February); they simply walked and waved before delving into ‘Wilderness’ after a brief “Hello, citizens of Brisbane” introduction by guitarist, Munaf Rayani.
Click here to read the review of Explosions In The Sky's Sydney show.
Jarringly beautiful and exceptionally optimistic, the starting track set the precedent high but also established exactly where the quintet stands after 18 years of performing and producing music; polished pieces, an assertive stature and an increasingly enthralled sentiment.
‘Catastrophe And The Cure’ then took us back to the early days of ‘All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone’; heavy percussion, silvery guitar and an intensity that hasn’t been lost, but simply expressed less forcibly in the 2016 album.
The moody introduction of ‘Logic Of A Dream’ made for a gut-wrenching change of pace as the band retracted rapidly and began plucking the soft, soothing hues. Perhaps my favourite of the ‘Wilderness’ album, the song was brilliantly executed, compacting three, big musical ideas into six and a half seemingly short minutes and proving some songs are best interpreted by watching as well as listening.
The band’s second album, ‘Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Live Forever’ made an appearance when ‘Greet Death’ pierced the hall. Despite being released in 2007, the track was undeniably ahead of its time; shaped by crashing cymbals and hardcore rock, rounding off with shimmering hues and low, lingered melodies; closing with eerie loops, ‘Greet Death’ almost sounds like a ‘Wilderness’ release, a testament to the Texan boys’ bizarre, musical advancements even years ago.
The stunning ‘First Breath After Coma’ brought with it the iconic elements of early Explosions In The Sky; a jingle, twinkling guitar, and a gripping story that sings as clear as any lyrics. ‘The Birth And The Death Of The Day’ served to heighten the already emotionally-brimming atmosphere, steering the audience through an even more fervent, impassioned journey that unravelled and refolded like the sun sets and rises.
Like the Earth rotating away from our solar system’s star, ‘Six Days At The Bottom Of The Ocean’ felt like nightfall; a little darker, a little sadder, and lingering with longing and ache.
‘Colours In Space’ prolonged the cooler sentiments awash within the room, painting the ceilings with atmospheric echoes and unrefined harmonies before launching into the song’s more melodically driven and percussion-grounded half; bringing the audience back from melancholy depths, to dawn.
Fan favourite ‘Your Hand In Mine’ told its heartbreaking story; a rare example of a track that’s interpreted totally differently according to its listener, but always leaving each as equally breathless and emotionally rattled.
Explosions In The Sky next launched into ‘Wilderness’ lead single, ‘Disintegration Anxiety’; the chopped, mechanical-sounding introduction ringing among the crowd’s cheers before plummeting into the deep, bass riff leading to the song’s textured body. Here, the band screamed of assuredness.
‘The Only Moment We Were Alone’ was a pleasantly surprising closing track; I always falsely presumed the release was unappreciated though the crowd’s response begged to differ. Another song as visually stunning to witness as it was audibly to hear; the thunderous booms that bellow during the first 30 seconds of the piece were a rich beginning to 10 minutes of pure mastery.
The band performed like a well-oiled machine, comparable to a watch, perhaps; intricate cogs and pieces working in perfect synchronisation to keep the hands ticking; ironic, considering time itself seemed to stop throughout the set.
Supported by a masterful light show and held in a well-selected venue, Explosions In The Sky were extraordinary. With music like this in the world, I’m truly convinced that the Earth is not a cold, dead place after all.