Live Review: Explosions in the Sky at Slim's
I’ve looked forward to seeing Explosions in the Sky live for a long time. Unfortunately, I think I waited too long. First of all, the more I go to Slim’s, the less I like it. Considering the unfavorable opinion I started with, I’m amazed at my capacity to dislike the space a little more every time I see a show there. In this particular case it didn’t help that, despite several confirmation emails, I was mysteriously omitted from the guest list. Fortunately, a guy happened to have two extra tickets for the sold out show so we were able to get in.
Slim’s packed people into the venue in the usual we’re-fucked-in-a-fire way that they always pack people in for sold out shows. Even though it was a school night, San Francisco’s teenagers made it out and claimed the area in front of the stage early, leaving the rest of us to float around in the back near the bar where seeing the band was a privilege reserve for the six-foot-plus set. The kids in the front were not very flexible when my companion attempted to get in front of the stage – coincidentally the spot in the venue with the worst acoustics – and snap some photos. In fact, they were downright rude and unwilling to let him in for a few minutes. Is it necessary to take music that seriously? It’s like some kind of reverse “get off my lawn, kids!” phenomenon. Why can’t you just have fun?
Explosions in the Sky sounds fantastic live but their brand of post-rock deserves a place with better acoustics than what Slim’s offers. Just as you’re nodding off to what could be a lullaby, steady cymbals and bass lead the buildup to a blast of guitars, drums, and unusual time signatures. Instead of nodding off you’re now uncontrollably bopping your head to the beat. Melodies seamlessly morph from soft and lilting to loud as one song bleeds into another. Slim’s is simply too vacuous to do this kind of richly textured music justice.
I can’t remember the last time I attended a show without an encore. I have certainly never been to a show where a band member came out on stage to riotous applause only to announce they wouldn’t be playing the encore their audience demands because they “have nothing left.” Funny, considering how much of their material they hadn’t played. It was a disappointing end to an otherwise good, albeit short, performance. Maybe they were as tired of the crowd in the front as I was.
- Review submitted by Jess Hemerly.