with Kill Devil Hills
Chevron Festival Gardens
Thursday, February 16, 2017
They may be at the forefront of guitar lead instrumental music, but Explosions In The Sky (pictured above) are far from being a household name. That didn’t stop Chevron Festival Gardens being packed to the rafters (if the stunning outdoor venue was to have rafters) to see the first Explosions In The Sky performance in Perth since 2008.
Opening was a set from WA’s own The Kill Devil Hills, whose fantastic tracks such as Words from Robin to Batman literally lit up the night sky, given the full benefit of the Festival Gardens’ lighting rig. It was inspiring seeing a local outfit of this quality play on a stage with world class production, and the Kill Devil Hills rose to the occasion.
In the years since their last tour, Texan four-piece Explosions in the Sky have scored three soundtracks and released two albums, with last year’s The Wilderness being somewhat of a reinvention for the band. Before jumping into anything on the new record, they (with additional touring member Carlos Torres) showed their quiet/loud aesthetic with a roar of fuzz giving way to emotive guitar notes during the seven minute splendour of The Birth And Death Of The Day.
Apart from a quick greeting when the band walked on stage and a farewell to the crowd at the end of the evening, there was not a word uttered between anyone on stage for the duration of the set. Michael James took centre stage as he swapped between bass and guitar over the course of the evening to act a focal point akin to watching a bobblehead for eighty minutes, but it is Explosions In The Sky’s aurally stunning performance that takes those present on an extravagant journey.
There is no doubt that the interplay between the guitars is the signature of Explosions In The Sky, but it is Chris Hrasky who truly holds the band together. The chiselled drummer has limbs in constant motion, the wrists of an elite tennis player and a metronomic precision that provides a backbone to the guitar frenzy.
The release of The Wilderness showed a willingness for the post rock outfit to experiment more with technology and this was brought into the live show. This was embraced on tunes such as Logic Of A Dream that built up to a cacophonous, evolving wall of noise before stripping itself back to almost minimalist levels and pop songs structures. The more aggressive side of Explosions In The Sky was on display with frenetic guitar and clipped drums on Disintegration Anxiety.
Munaf Rayani sways like a Geraldton Gum with arm gestures that appeared to be something between playing guitar and doing Tai Chi on the pristine, meandering Colors In Space. The punters swayed along to the music, closed their eyes for a private journey or even shed a tear during the seventy plus minutes of cinematic grandeur that Explosions In The Sky created. There were times when it was hard for the mind not to wander to scenes of Friday Night Lights, in what was a mesmerising kaleidoscope of sound.
Photos by Linda Dunjey Photography.