Explosions in the sky, Astoria, London

3.00

Texan rockers Explosions in the Sky were born on the fourth of July as they watched the celebratory fireworks nine years ago. Since releasing their third album The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place in 2003, the quartet's word-of-mouth success has established them as the inheritors of Mogwai and Godspeed You Black Emperor's brooding instrumental post-rock. It was only so long before they would follow in Mogwai's footsteps, having been selected to curate the next instalment of the discerning indie fans' festival All Tomorrow's Parties, in May.

Explosions' dedicated and adoring fanbase means they have no problem filling the Astoria. But you can't help feeling that after some brief introductory words preceding opening track "Yasmin the Light", the night starts to feel like an intellectual exercise. Explosions' music does not call for between-songs chatter – it would ruin the reverent mood – but with no pauses to break up the epic tracks, and with their characteristic ebbing and flowing noise levels, one tune merges into the next with little distinction.

The band are almost impeccably tight. Drummer Chris Hrasky is visibly counting on more than one occasion before tapping out the beat on the edge of his drums as guitars surge into the wall of sound. In one vicious track, the distorted bass is far too loud, its frequency threatening to rip open your insides.

But there are moments of utter brilliance. Explosions are undoubtedly masters of their craft. The interplay of Mark Smith and Munaf Rayani's guitar playing is beautiful, chiming guitars transcending the typical rock-guitar sound.

In final song "The Only Moment We Were Alone", the melody of the harmonising guitars rises above the surging noise. They take swift turns from delicate playing to stormy violence that hits you full force with waves of effects-laden sound.

In one particularly dramatic number, Rayani, Smith and bassist Michael James each raise their right hand and strike their instruments hard as a threatening orange-red light casts over the stage. In such moments the band compel and astound, but too often, when you expect to be feeling that knot in your gut, instead lies a sense of disappointing detachment.

Explosions in the Sky can be immensely powerful. In the same way that Rayani more than once falls to his knees as he pours emotion on to his guitar strings, the band could bring us to our knees. What they really need is some fireworks.

Arts and Entertainment

Film Leonardo DiCaprio hunts Tom Hardy

Arts and Entertainment
And now for something completely different: the ‘Sin City’ episode of ‘Casualty’
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

    Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

    After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
    The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

    After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

    Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
    Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

    Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

    The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
    10 best sun creams for kids

    10 best sun creams for kids

    Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
    Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

    Tate Sensorium

    New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
    Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

    Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

    He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
    Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

    Remember Ashton Agar?

    The No 11 that nearly toppled England
    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks