Josh Darr

Twenty years later clear eyes, full hearts still can’t lose with the Texas post-rock band, Explosions in the Sky. I know I’m combining references, and timelines don’t completely match up since the TV show, Friday Night Lights, didn’t arrive until 2006 and the movie it’s inspired by, two years prior in 2004. Explosions in the Sky soundtracked both the film and the TV show, but at that point had already released three records—one of which, The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place, has been celebrated for its 20th anniversary with special performances throughout the year. The band also released their 8th studio album, End just ten days prior to this evening on Sept. 15. There was a lot of question based on the album’s title that maybe the post rock quartet were planning to hang up their guitar straps or maybe it insinuates a transition to a new chapter. For this die hard Explosions fan I was just amped to get an opportunity to capture and experience another show for tonight regardless of what’s intended with their future. 

I find myself saying this a lot as again I didn’t initially intend to include words for this show and allow the photos to speak for themselves and I believe they do. For me personally I can hear myself get a little too existential when discussing the bands music and the emotions it always brings up in me. Of course, at this point, there are many many nostalgic memories I have attached with these songs and growing up in the south playing football their music has also always spoke volumes to my inner child who wished I kept playing. What stood out to me about this evening was the wonderfully choreographed playbill that included local openers, Lifeguard and FACS.

Both bands definitely impressed and represented contrasting places in the careers. I look forward to upcoming shows by them and can’t wait to see Lifeguard grow in this music scene. What I have always loved about the guys in Explosions is their humility and grounded-ness. There was a sense of gratitude from them when they arrived onstage and for the memorable shows throughout their careers tied to Chicago and the hope for the continued tradition of new ones.

Munaf Rayani also made a point to compliment and express appreciation for both of the openers reminding the crowd the importance of embracing our local artists and what they do for own musical traditions. And those were pretty much the only words spoken for nearly the next hour and a half as i can only speak for myself being transported somewhere familiar, somewhere memorable and somewhere infinite.

Now is the portion of the review where I have a tendency to go off on a deviation from the show and more in the realm of how I’m connecting to music similarly to work in a gallery. So I’ll keep it reigned in and mention how beautifully the newer pieces from End weave themselves in the set with what have become classic EITS. I have lost count of how many times I’ve gotten to experience their music live and they are definitely at a place where one could imagine or assume the live performance would evolve into a much larger orchestrated multi-instrument concerto but instead like themselves their music stays grounded and what they can produce with their own hands is what we hear.

They have clearly not lost touch with their strings over these past seven years in between albums. I hope their new album is directing us to a new chapter in their music and more opportunities to experience them live and not that final touchdown album thrown by Matt Saracen. Like a parent on the Panther football booster club I left the evening ecstatic with a win and the closing song from the set, “The Only Moment We Were Alone” still pleasantly echoing in my ear.