Explosions In The Sky 4/18 Glasshouse Pomona Review

By Ace Ubas

My favorite part about Coachella isn’t the festival itself, but rather “Localchella” – the concerts that happen before or after the festival in Southern California. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of large crowds and the ridiculous desert heat, but I digress. What Localchella brings is not only compensation to those who missed out (or refuse to) on buying weekend passes, but also to see the bands in a more intimate setting.

Wednesday night brought Austin-based quartet Explosions in the Sky to the Glasshouse in Pomona in front of a sold-out crowd. As an instrumental rock band, it might be a bit difficult to engage the audience because of the lack of vocals. But as one of the more dynamic bands today, they prove why they don’t need lyrics or a vocalist. To get their message across, they do it through sheer musicianship and passion. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t have a narrative to share. In fact, the song titles and song structure pretty much do all the necessary storytelling.

It didn’t take long for the crowd to be engulfed in the music as Explosions in the Sky surprisingly opened with “Memorial” – a song that they typically play last. From the opening guitar note, the audience was immediately entranced as much as the band itself, swaying back-and-forth and bobbing their heads up-and-down.

The swirling guitars on “Catastrophe and the Cure” led into drummer Chris Hrasky’s cymbal crashes until guitarist Munaf Rayani puts down his guitar to pick-up a pair of drum sticks and add to the percussive rhythm. Just watching them visually is already hypnotizing as they move along to their own music. Throughout the whole night, their body language shows the amount of emotion and energy that they invest into their live set and it spills over into the audience.

Whether it’s the build-up of crescendos, the destructive climaxes, or the brief moments of silence, it really is a spectacle to see performer and audience in-sync with one another, establishing a really unique bond that isn’t witnessed at most shows.

The rest of their set consisted of a good balance of songs that span their catalog. On songs like “The Birth and Death of Day,” “Human Qualities,” and “Six Days at the Bottom of the Ocean” display how the quieter sequences in the songs are powerful because regardless of how well you know the songs, they manage to catch you off-guard when it transitions into the louder peaks.

They ended their 10-song set with a trio of 10-minute long songs as Rayani and guitarists Mark Smith and Michael James created a non-stop barrage of guitar melodies that layered each other quite beautifully, resolving in what can simply be described as euphoria.

Seeing Explosions in the Sky in a live setting provides the perfect escape if all you want to do is just get lost in the music. Once they start to play, you’re immediately placed in some kind of fantastical world that you never want to leave.

Set list:
Catastrophe and the Cure
Last Known Surroundings
Six Days at the Bottom of the Ocean
Be Comfortable, Creature
The Birth and Death of Day
Human Qualities
With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept
Let Me Back In
The Only Moment We Were Alone

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