Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Explosions [in my ears] in the Sky

I must be getting old; I walked out of a concert tonight, not because I didn't enjoy the music, but because it was just being amplified way too loud. I first learned about Explosions in the Sky, the "post-rock" instrumental band from Texas, through Friday Night Lights. The band's music is wonderfully evocative of the desolate but emotion-filled West Texas landscape where the TV show (based on the movie, based on the book) takes place. So I was looking forward to seeing them tonight at the sold-out show at Terminal 5 on the far west side.

The opening acts were pretty cool, and the headliners' set began promisingly, with one band member saying, "This is the biggest show we've ever played." A few minutes in, though, things got loud. Really loud. And the problem is, since the band is so driven by morphing soundscapes, loud stays loud for a while. Distortion persists. I don't know who's fault this is in the end: the musicians or the venue. But I had to wonder whether they compensate for their lack of vocals by jacking up the volume. For me, intensity doesn't have to translate to turning the knobs up to 11. I think I'll continue to appreciate their recorded work, but won't bother to see them live again. Which is a pity, because a lot of their songs are so cool and trance-like.

The other thing that tonight's show taught me: I'm not a salesman. I couldn't find anyone who was free to join me, so upon arrival near the entrance to the venue, I gingerly held up my extra ticket. A guy who looked stoned yet determined - if that's possible - asked me if I'd take $5 for it. I hesitated, told him $10. He started to walk away. Two seconds later, I gave in for the lower price. I'd paid about $23 with fees included. I wonder if he actually used it or scalped it after me. I had a hunch it was the latter. The $5 just paid for one of the tasty empanadas that they were selling inside plus a dollar tip.

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