Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

So Long, Lonesome

Even with the post-SxSW concert-going hangover, the lingering cold and the fact that it would be my fourth night out in a row (which isn’t really the best way to recover from either of the first two points), I was still really excited Explosions In The Sky’s show at the Opera House on Saturday night, their first of two sold-out shows in town this weekend. I’d been waiting ages to see them live and even though the Friday Night Lights factor put them in a larger venue than I’d have liked, I didn’t let that dampen my enthusiasm. That, as it’d turn out, would be taken care of elsewhere.

Starting things off was Eluvium, whose set was the aural equivalent of a glacier – slow, massive and unstoppable. Matthew Cooper, he who is Eluvium, built these enormous sonic constructs by piling on layers and layers of noise from his keyboard, guitar and laptop – all you could do was close your eyes and be taken away which was just as well, since there was really nothing to look at. Cooper sat at his little workstation way off to the side of the stage, essentially hidden from view, and a projector displayed the same video of birds flying around a smokestack for the duration of the 40-minute set.

But what Eluvium lacked in visual stimulus, the next band more than made up for. Led by John Congleton, who produced the latest EITS album, The Paper Chase came off like a less-tuneful, far more maniacal Dismemberment Plan. Aggressive, abrasive, theatrical and not at all what the typical Explosions concertgoer might have been expecting, The Paper Chase need to be commended for making an impression – after the show, I heard as many people talking about their set as much as they did the headliners. Most of them were complaining loudly, sure, but still. They didn’t do much for me either but it was an effective wake-up call after Eluvium.

Explosions In The Sky’s latest All Of A Sudden, I Miss Everyone hadn’t made as much of an impression on me as its predecessor The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place – I found it more cinematic but less visceral and impactful. The band were still, for my money, the pinnacle of instrumental post-rock, but the new record was a bit of a let down. But still, their live shows were supposed to be legendary so whatever they played I was sure I’d love it.

And it’s here I need to segue a bit to mention one of my fellow concert-goers, who had been making a minor annoyance of himself all night. Having smuggled a hash pipe in via his shoe (he made a grand display of extracting it making me wonder why on this, of all nights, the usually oppressive Opera House security staff was nowhere to be found), he had been getting more stoned, drunk and obnoxious and now that the headliners were on, he was extra-determined to be an utter asshat. Explosions’ music demands immersiveness on the part of the listener, a commitment that it’s hard to make or maintain when the guy beside you is yelling, “yeah! whoo!”, talking loudly to his friends or trying to tell the band while they’re playing that they rock, all the while shoving his way up front and being a total boor. Not necessarily unusual behaviour at a rock show but so much more unwelcome at this one.

Basically, save for a few moments where I was able to fully tune in and appreciate it, the Explosions set became background music for being annoyed by this guy. It was no longer a musical concert but a test to see how long I could go without putting my fist in this guy’s face (it came very very close and might have come to pass if I thought he would have felt anything through the booze and drugs). Bottom line, the show was pretty much ruined for me but from what I hear from those located elsewhere, Explosions were great. Maybe next time I’ll experience it for myself. I totally should have gone to the Sunday show like I’d originally planned. Oh well.

PopMatters has an interview with the band, Ground Control talks to drummer Chris Hrasky about writing the new record, guitarist Munaf Rayani shuffles his ipod for The AV Club and NPR still has the show from DC available to stream or download, which is what I’ll need to do to actually enjoy them live.

Photos: Explosions In The Sky, The Paper Chase, Eluvium @ The Opera House – March 24, 2007
MP3: Explosions In The Sky – “Welcome, Ghosts”
MP3: The Paper Chase – “We Know Where You Sleep”
MP3: Eluvium – “New Animals From The Air”
MySpace: Explosions In The Sky
MySpace: Eluvium

Spoon makes their bid for worst album title of the year. Isn’t it someone’s job at Merge to prevent things like this? Either way, look for Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga in stores July 10. Sigh.

JAM! reports on the state of Metric, including the release of long-lost debut album Grow Up And Blow Away in June and work on their next album, due out in Spring of 2008.

Have you been following along with the promo campaign for Feist’s new one The Reminder, out May 1? Various internet outlets have been getting “webisodes” (read: videos) for tracks from the new record to premiere – you can see the ones released so far at Pitchfork, Stereogum and Spinner. More to come? Feist plays two shows at Massey Hall on May 25 and 26.

Yes But No But Yes assembles the Top 15 Unintentionally Funny Comic Book Panels – “Where’s My Money, Honey?” was a given but the rest of them are gold as well. Via I Am Fuel, You Are Friends.

And oh, how about that Battlestar Galactica finale? Huh. Either they’ve got some gigantic rabbit up their collective sleeves or they’re losing their minds in grand fashion. Either way, audacious.

By : Frank Yang at 8:09 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Brads says:

    I feel your pain, Frank. Actually, I felt that exact pain, at the EiTS show here in Boston last week. For the first time in my life, thanks to the crowd, I walked out during the middle of a set by a band I love and was more than a little excited to see. Painful. I’m just fortunate I was able to catch them a couple years ago, because I’ll likely never try again…

  2. ben says:

    sunday’s show had its share of asses too, so saturday or sunday….it wouldn’t have mattered. EiTs were great tho.

  3. emelio says:

    I had the same experince on saturday. Three drunk guys talking loudly on their cell phones and yelling at the people flashing them dirty looks; "what!? you dont like talking?". No, your right I would much rather listen to your conversation about wether or not your friend is partyin’ tonite. Thankfully they decided on partyin’ somewhere else soon after. You guys rock! I hear Dave Matthews is playing a show soon, we should totally check it out.

  4. cassie says:

    Sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy the show, Frank. But here’s an idea/thought – why not move to where the guy isn’t standing? Another spot in the venue would have been optimal, to be sure.

  5. AW says:

    That guy was in the wrong for sure. Show behaviour is kind of like driving … go with the flow I say. If the majority are freaking out and partying like crazy, party on. If it’s generally a more introspective kind of vibe then you’re a dickhead for ruining the experience of some.

  6. distopian_dreamer says:

    That sucks. Sorry you didn’t enjoy the show Frank. Too bad you didn’t go Jack Bauer on his ass. Not sure if it’s an all ages thing… Sunday was great. Though the crowd just wouldn’t shut up during Eluvium, EITS were amazing. Really surprised at how animated they were, Munaf in particular. No encore though, instead Munaf threw out chocolates…

  7. dc says:

    I feel your pain. Had exactly the same problem seeing Arcade Fire in London a few weeks ago. Drunk guy falling on me. People talking all the way through. Moved places several times – but same problem all around. And was v.packed, so more I moved, the worse view I got. Very irritating!

  8. Frank says:

    Cassie – honestly, moving didn’t even occur to me. I’d arrived early and had a good spot, and it was full enough that trying to reposition that late in the gig would get me a worse spot and surely bug others. But all things considered, maybe a worthwhile course of action.

    I’d have prefered if buttboy had just had a seizure or something.

  9. JimH says:

    He must have been an American. I thought all you Canadians are so well-behaved (well, except for that fishing guide who threatened to knife me after I beat him at poker).

  10. Chris says:

    That sucks dude. Crowd behaviour has definately got worse over the last ten years or so. Maybe I’m sounding like a cranky old man, but gigs used to be for the fans, now I’m finding they’re increasing just part of drunken night out for large groups of people who don’t give a toss about the music, bar the one ‘hit’ that they heard on drivetime radio the week before. dicks.

  11. Derek says:

    Frank, be thankful you weren’t near the two guys who decided it would be a great idea to mosh (yes, mosh) during the climax of ‘Memorial’. I did not go to see Explosions In The Sky to have to constantly make sure that my nose wouldn’t be broken or that someone was going to fall onto my girlfriend. The guy’s were confronted, and their response was that the music was ‘just too good, man’. Good thing they settled down before the end of the song (where the band all swayed and slammed their guitars in unison).

  12. heather says:

    Hey thanks for the link. I keep re-reading those myself because they make me laughout loud. I always enjoy your fine blog, keep up the excellent and essential work.

  13. Frank says:

    actually Derek, that’s exactly where I was – in front of Munaf, right? I hope so, or more like I hate to think that there were multiple mosh pits. I did take the opportunity to get a few shoves in on the jackasses but was mostly trying to protect my camera and the smaller folks in the line of fire.


  14. Phil says:

    Oh my GOD Frank, please get rid of your cold so we can stop reading about it in your writing!

  15. Frank says:

    relax, it’s gone. sorry if that one line ruined your day.

  16. rgsc says:

    That sucks Frank. Reminds me of a dude who sat behind me at a show at the ACC (a Hip show a number of years ago) who insisted on giving the row in front of him (ie me and my friends) headlock style hugs with his smelly melon in the middle, spilling beer on us and, most memorably, constantly yelling "Don’t be a jackass, jackass"…which were my thoughts exactly…ugh. I keep planning on making a t-shirt with that memorable quote and perhaps with some "concert manners courtesy cards" along the lines of the movie goers cards at glarkware. Because really, some people just don’t get the fact that we paid to see and hear the band and not them.

  17. Chris says:

    Well, at least there were no lyrics for him to sing along to… On the sunday night, there was a guy who tried a couple times to verbally convey how much the band rocked.

  18. corey says:

    re: no encores. eits never plays encores, so it’s not like anyone missed anything.

    also, i was at both shows, sunday’s crowd seemed better, although still a little too chatty at times.