October 5, 2023

Explosions in the Sky played Kings Theatre

Wrapping up their North American tour in support of their new album End, Explosions in the Sky pulled out all the stops at Brooklyn's Kings Theatre.

On the band's first studio album in seven years, the post-rock veterans from Austin, Texas have revived their established sound for another go and their loud/quiet dynamics remain as powerful and moving as ever, but on a tour in support of their newest record, the band played more of a greatest hits set that focused on their beloved early discography making for a night of heightened nostalgic bliss. As the lights darkened in the ornate Kings Theatre, the band took to the stage, picked up their instruments, and following a brief hello and introduction to the crowd, proceed to unleash an hour and a half of non-stop music that ebbed and flowed with rising tensions and comforting releases of gargantuan waves of sound that filled the room with sparkling beauty. Operating as an instrumental band means that musical queues are essential and the audience was clearly tuned in to the show with the utmost attention, reacting to single notes with euphoric cheers throughout the night. The band opened with "First Breath After Coma", the first track from their classic 2003 record The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place (which they'll play in-full this coming weekend at the intimate Bowery Ballroom), instantly setting a tone for the rest of the night before transitioning directly into "Catastrophe and the Cure," an incredible one-two punch to kick off the night and ignite deeply harbored feelings from the past as the guitars melded together to form a towering wave of sound while perfectly crisp drummers held things at the center, gently pulling things back to maintain the restraint needed from letting the guitars fly off the rails. Digging back to their stellar record Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever, the band erupted in a moving and monumental rendition of the album's first song "Greet Death" and with its searing guitar lines and striking blasts of technicolor noise, the band began to annihilate the stage, absolutely slaying away at their stringed instruments with brilliant force, the crowd raising their hands to the sky to literally feel the music and all of its raging power. There were moments when the band would hit a groove that would send Michael James and Munaf Rayani into a unified sway, digging their instruments towards the ground before pulling up into the air in a circular rhythm, fully together in lock-step as if they were physically conjuring up magic through their bass and guitar. While brief, the latest songs that did make an appearance in the set, benefited from the luxury of being written by a band that is so steeped in their own sound that they flowed effortlessly into the breaks between the more hallmark moments. "Your Hand in Mine" received a near-standing ovation from the front of the theatre as the opening notes trickled out and more cries of elation followed suit from around the building. As one of the band's more iconic songs, the gravity it holds for fans can feel tremendous despite it lacking vocals. The memories it can trigger can be wildly personal, but even without those attachments, the melodies can still draw up a staggering amount of emotions and overpower the audience with its grandiosity. The night ended on the triumphant "The Only Moment We Were Alone," another track from their landmark third album, and in stunning fashion the band somehow surpassed the previous highs of the evening and ascended to a new level euphoria before crumbling into an apocalyptic breakdown, the band attacking their instruments with everything they had left, creating a plume of sonic cacophony that shook the crowd to their core. As the surging force of sound came to a close, people rose to their feet, hands once again in the air with many hoping to hold on to the night for as long as possible as the waves of delayed guitar slowly began to fade out across the auditorium.  

Set list:

01 "First Breath After Coma"
02 "Catastrophe and the Cure"
03 "Loved Ones"
04 "Greet Death"
05 "It’s Never Going to Stop"
06 "With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept"
07 "Your Hand in Mine"
08 "The Fight"
09 "The Only Moment We Were Alone"

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