Thursday, March 29, 2007

Explosions in the Sky w/ The pAper chAse and Eluvium @ Metro

I was more geeked for this show than any in recent memory. I’ve come to this band somewhat recently, but been thoroughly impressed with everything they’ve released. My pals and I decided that this would be one of the rare Metro shows where it would be best to be in the balcony. We arrived early and managed second row, just to the right of the middle.
The first act was Eluvium, who is really just Matthew Cooper, or as I like to call him, the Prince of the ebow. A one man band of sorts, he looped various sounds through an i-mac, making some impressive compositions. To say that he had no stage presence is putting it mildly – at one point he leaned forward in his chair and did something behind the card table he had set up so that no one could see him. But the music was quite good. I would imagine that the albums are probably a better way to experience Eluvium, but I still enjoyed it.
I had checked out The pAper chAse via their website earlier in the day and didn’t really know what to expect. I suppose I would best describe them as halfway between Mission of Burma on vodka and Primus on crystal meth. Yes, I realize that that could mean a lot of different things, depending on how you choose to interpret it. Frontman John Congleton had a ton of energy, contorting his body in violent jerks, but never missing a beat. Initially, they sounded abrasive and somewhat scary, but as their set continued, they definitely won me over. Their drummer was pounding so hard, he broke his snare drum and had to finish one song without it. In general, the packed crowd did not seem very interested. I’d really like to check these guys out at their own show in a smaller venue.
An extremely eager and devoted audience greeted Explosions in the Sky, who took the stage a few minutes early (love that). After a brief introduction by guitarist Munaf Rayani, they opened w/ First Breath after Coma and went from there. Playing just over an hour, their set alternated between big, dynamic crescendos and close, soft intimacy. The intensity during the big parts was impressive. I’m tempted to claim that the difference-maker is drummer Christopher Hrasky. While he clearly drives that intensity, it would be unfair to ignore the volume generated by the other members. At the biggest peaks, everyone in the band was playing as fast and loud as they could, resulting in an overwhelming sound, provoking emotion without the need for lyrics.
The quiet parts were inherently the same as on their albums. The impressive thing was not only that they could keep that same atmosphere of closeness, but the crowd was completely rapt with attention – to the point that in the closer Rayani was tapping his foot, and it was the only audible sound in the entire building.
I mentioned that one of these guys is going to get tendonitis. Well I now know who it is. Bassist/Baritone Guitarist Michael James strummed furiously, particularly when playing bass. There’s no way he makes it past 30 without some problems. During "The Moon is Down", Rayani taped an ebow down on his guitar and smacked a tambourine against the stage, becoming more and more violent as the song progressed. As it ended he fell back in exhaustion. The last three songs played were “Greet Death”, followed by “Catastrophe and the Cure”, with “The Only Moment We Were Alone” as the closer. The last peak was the largest of the night, with both band and audience apparently having given everything they could.
When I was in high school, I once had a band teacher who referred to a moment of that particular day’s rehearsal as a “musical orgasm.” While that moment was creepy for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which were his bad mustache and pockmarked face, it has somehow stuck with me. I suppose if a band heard that and tried to create what a musical orgasm would sound like, that band would play exactly like Explosions in the Sky did last night. I can’t wait to experience them again.


Anonymous said...

Nice review. :-)

That was a great Show! I think my next frivolous guitar gear purchase will need to be an ebow.

Rumor has it the show was recorded and it will be posted by the band on If you search there now you can find lots of other Explosions in the Sky shows. I will keep checking and post a link if it's up.

Anonymous said...

Anyone have a set list?

Anonymous said...

I just checked and last night's show is now up!

..and here is the setlist:
01. < lead-in >
02. First Breath After Coma
03. Welcome Ghosts
04. Memorial
05. The Moon Is Down
06. Yasmin The Light
07. Greet Death
08. Catastrophe And The Cure
09. The Only Moment We Were Alone


Anonymous said...

Pictures from the show: