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Music Blog

Concert Review: Explosions in the Sky at Twilight Concert Series

by Austen Diamond
- Posted // 2011-07-15 - The decision to start the 2011 Twilight Concert Series off with a lesser-known experimental, instrumental rock band to avoid last year's opening-night clusterfuck paid off.

As memory serves, the 2010 opener, Modest Mouse, saw 40,000 fans packed into Pioneer Park for a few hours, and that’s not counting the lines of folks wrapped around several blocks who couldn’t enter. Attendees were packed in so thick that a handful of them scaled the trees 150 feet from the stage, which, at times, became more of a spectacle than the concert. It was an uncomfortable debacle.

By comparison, the estimated 25,000 attendees for Explosions in the Sky and No Age last night seemed manageable, even enjoyable, in that at no point was I jostled trying to move about the park grounds or did I get drenched in beer (I consider that a glorious success). The crowd, overall, seemed well-behaved and attentive.

I missed No Age for reporting on another story, but word from several friends and colleagues was that they produced a cacophonous array of sound that leaned more towards unpleasant rumblings than music. After some announcements, Explosions in the Sky took the stage right on schedule.

Explosions in the Sky is an enigma, of sorts. The instrumental band paints a lush landscape that feels cinematic—a sonic palate that makes perfect background music or, with concerted effort, a redeeming listen . One attendee last night described them as, “They are like Enya, but, like, actually good.” That description works for me.

This review will be devoid of song names and references to albums. While many of the songs seemed recognizable enough, truth is, I don’t know them well enough. But it seemed like that was prevalent among the adoring fans at the front of the stage Crammed teenagers, who would close their eyes during the sweeping lulls and fist pump when Explosions would rock out, knew the songs, but didn’t know them—if you know what I mean. At the high moments, the teenagers would crowd surf, which the band commented on, saying they were surprised because that never happens.

More than a precise catalog of tunes laid forth in pristine order, Explosions created an array of “feelings.” It wasn’t like jazz, and it was more rock than orchestral works, although the arrangements, with guitar parts woven like a double helix, are crafted tightly and are technically demanding.

It’s like Explosions played a series of sonic short stories, all of which were thematically spun around the essence of locomotion. Their epic tunes—sometimes pushing well past the double digit minute mark—had the effused various stages of movement and a variety of ways to move, whether evoking a sense of flight or swimming in a vast sea.

All photos by Jennifer Leahy

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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Posted // July 20,2011 at 16:17 For me this was the highlist of the Concert Series already. Seeing Explosions play live was incredible. Just like every free concert though you almost wish you had to pay in order to be a part of this type of show without all the lame people there just socializing. So much chatting going on through out the set.
Nice Pictures btw tell Jenn thanks for helping me out with my camera.


Posted // July 19,2011 at 22:44 hot girls. WOO!


Posted // July 19,2011 at 12:56 What's really amazing is most of the 40,000 people who showed up last year had no idea who the hell Modest Mouse was. They were just desperate to hang out with all their 15 year-old friends.


Posted // July 16,2011 at 10:34 i agree with mikey. if youre a two peice that relies on a sampler youre definitely going to be compromised if said sampler is lost by the airlines. still noage didnt seem to mind too much and still put on a great set complete with a cover of black flags six pack. explosions in the sky is amazing live playing for an hour and twenty minutes with only boughts of low volumed feedback to mark the divisions of songs. they played a wide array off all albums and did a great job of varying the tempo to give the audience highs and lows. they may not be the most well known of this years group of bands but i can assure you they will have the most passionate performance when its all said and done in august


Posted // July 15,2011 at 14:24 Um, No age may be too avant guard for your friends to enjoy. no need to be insulting. i sure it would have been better had their sampler not get lost by an airline but those guys played the hell out of their songs and if i may, rocked salt lake's socks off