Lush Soundscapes in a Plush Room

April 7th, 2011

Explosions in the Sky – Radio City Music Hall – April 6, 2011

From moody and meditative to lush and orchestral, Explosions in the Sky aptly convey emotions without saying a word. The Austin, Texas, band sold out Radio City Music Hall last night, no mean feat for an instrumental-rock group, even one with a new album, Take Care, Take Care, Take Care, out in a few weeks. Wordless music often leads to chatty audiences, but the seated crowd was attentive and responsive, growing loudest for bits of unrestrained guitar fury.

The cinematic music—slow-burning songs that swell into grand crescendos before gently concluding—sounded pristine and at home inside the famed venue. Each of the band’s tunes covers a fair amount of terrain, ultimately coming off as the soundtrack to whatever you’re thinking or feeling while you hear them (especially if you close your eyes). They played for about 75 minutes, essentially straight through, pausing very briefly, if at all, between songs.

This was Explosions in the Sky’s biggest show to date, in stature and in size, and it seemed totally appropriate of its sumptuous surroundings. Although the band appeared small on the massive Radio City stage, their giant, swirling soundscapes easily filled the room. And despite several songs hovering around the 10-minute mark, the music never lingered and there were no indulgent solos. It’s a simple equation: No frontman. No vocals. No problem. —R. Zizmor