Cascading sound swirled in overlapping patterns, above and around the venue’s tightly packed audience. It permeated the stuffy atmosphere and tessellated around every surface and being in the room. It was the wordless yet narrative music from a band unlike any other, Explosions in the Sky; and it happened at Grand Central on a Wednesday night.
At 8:00pm, doors opened and fans cloaked in dark clothes and flannel piled into Grand Central in clumps, slowly but surely pervading the venue to what seemed like max capacity. The line outside stretched around the building and became one of the largest and most diverse looking crowds to have graced the Miami concert circuit. From older men in polos, pretty girls in short skirts, to bearded hipsters and ultra music nerds. And the reason is simple, a band like Explosions in the Sky has no “image,” has no “type” of fan.
Opening band, Zammuto was a fun and almost self mocking band that had a lot more figured out for a group with only one album out than you’d expect. They had a smart, well composed sound with choppy yet intricate guitars and fluttering vocal effects that glided over the almost math rock-y melodies. With bizzare visuals to accompany songs like “Zebra Butt”, they were modestly humorous in their presentation, but still delivered a clean sound that evolved as the set went on. For one instrumental track, there was a series of grainy home videos projected on the screen behind them. Many of them seemed wildly familiar, and as the visuals moved along the path that the music created, a storyline was formed in your head, much like what would come when Explosions in the Sky took the stage.
Explosions in the Sky began their set with the steadily crescendoing “Memorial”, and before we knew it, the sweaty and sticky crowd was moving as one to the landscape of sounds produced by the four members on stage. The guitars soared about the audience, intertwining and pulsating with the ever rising drum beat that moved and jerked our bodies with every turning point, whether we had the room to or not. The music had a way of taking over every part of us, conducting our every sway, attentively guiding our thoughts but still allowing us to be taken where we needed to go. Exactly what venture you took was entirely up to you and your experiences.
I realized this when they slid into the matchless and moving, “Your Hand in Mine”. As everyone cheered, one woman commented that the song brought back memories, that it was like some sort of flashback. And I’d say that the feeling was mutual within the entire audience, because the way we all reacted to that song was in a sort of removed way- like wherever it was taking us was a place we’d been to before in our earlier lives. It surpasses any superficial sentiments of nostalgia, we weren’t longing for a different time, we were taken there. And as the song climbed over multiple peaks, we were clinging onto a memory that had become so tangible. Every member of that audience was experiencing their own different lifetime, but the platform was the same. Every thought was spawned from a same familiar seed, the same canvas where our thoughts and experiences were sprawled out in multicolor- the canvas that was Explosions in the Sky.
The show proved how truly transcendental music can be if we just let go and allow it to take over, and many fans did just that. Amongst the crowd would be two types of audience member- one, with their eyes closed, slowly nodding to the music and hardly breaking out of their trance and into the tangible world- and the other, whose body movements were unhinged, expressing the music outwardly and without restraint. The introverted and the extroverted fan were both justifiable in this situation. The only fans that were not defensible that night, were the people who chatted loudly and didn’t give the quieter and more quaint parts of songs their chance to breathe and simmer.
Many people doubt the effectiveness of instrumental music, and box the genre in at some sort of elevator music standard. And it’s easy to say that a song without words can have no meaning or relevance. But when you experience a seasoned and multi faceted band like Explosions in the Sky first hand, you are given a means of understanding that goes beyond what words can convey. Their songs act as the soundtrack that your life always needed and deserved, and they take on the shape of days long gone and days to come- always moving, oscillating around your thoughts. So tell me, what’s more personal than that?
*These are not our videos*