Friday Night provided once again a lesson in just how much cool music that I have not heard of is out there. When looking at First Avenue’s schedule a few weeks ago, I noticed Explosions in the Sky on the Calendar and that the show had sold out. I had never heard of the band, but hey, I like explosions so at least it should be fun.
Opening the night was Baltimore, MD band Lower Dens. An entropic duo made up of Jana Hunter (guitar, vocals) and Nate Nelson (drums) they performed with synth backing track. It was a very chill set with dark lights, Hunter’s vocals floating about the music and a good sized crowd already at First Ave for them. Unexpected (for me at least) was a cover of Hall and Oates “Maneater” that had many in the audience smiling.
It’s been five years since Explosions in the Sky’s last album and “The Wilderness” was eagerly awaited by fans when it was released earlier this year. Almost exclusively instrumental their music has been featured in numerous movies and TV shows. Taking the stage with only side light the band greeted the packed venue – speaking more words than the opener did during their entire set by the way – before starting what I can only describe as an experience.
I am normally not a big fan of instrumental bands but something just clicked. Maybe it was the Dulcimer on stage, maybe the deeply layered guitars that built up in songs without ever going over the top, maybe the fantastic lights or the band that was quite lively on stage and fun to watch. It just worked, it was not boring and kept me watching them. The numbers left me smiling without quite knowing why. Overall, I am once more happy to find a band I knew nothing about going into the show, and walking out really liking them at the end of the night.
Set List: Wilderness / Catastrophe and the Cure / The Ecstatics / Greet Death /
Logic of a Dream / The Birth and Death of the Day / With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept / Colors in Space / Your Hand in Mine / Disintegration Anxiety / The Only Moment We Were Alone