Perth International Arts Festival was graced with the melodic ambience that was Explosions in the Sky last week. Jai Price reviews for Lost.
Kill Devil Hills were a unique way to kill (ha ha) some time before the main event. Sporting a bluesy, grungy tone and rocking beards as luscious as a lovingly-tended garden, the rough rockers showed no signs of winding down to the quiet life. There was nothing poetic nor poignant about their performance (besides their final rodeo). Rather, the gentlemen revelled in ensnaring the audience in a flurry of clamouring guitar licks, potent drumming and stirring keyboard that tied things together.
You would perhaps think that the addition of a fiddle would be drowned out amongst the dirty, forceful guitar and jungle rhythms, however it added a refinement that emitted a grounded, country feel. One track was described by lead singer Brendan Humphries as a ‘cacophony’, and it certainly fit the bill. Featuring ruthless drums, blaring guitar and Humphries’ signature resigned, baleful voice, a deafening roar overcame the area as the harsh yet strangely right reality swept across the crowd. I’d always heard great things about Kill Devil Hills, and its live experience was one that far exceeded my already high expectations. Bird was an immensely pleasurable finale that showed how the band could be just as gut-wrenching when relaying acoustic parleys. Although it has gone through a myriad of band members throughout the years, the current line up provided a tight, brutally raw and very genuine experience that served as a warming foray into the night’s venture.
Explosions in the Sky may have disappointed in living up to their namesake, but the musical journey on which they escorted the audience was a wonder to behold. There was always sound coming from the stage, and not in an audience interaction kind of way (not that this was a problem). Each song seamlessly drew into the next as water flows into a stormwater drain.
EitS was in no way a one trick pony, as its songs often zig-zagged between being blisteringly intense and serene. Less like a train wreck, more like hypnotists, the band sucked you in so that it was impossible to look away. I constantly found myself wondering what rabbit they’d pull out of their collective hat next. At times, the men really let loose, prancing around the stage while throttling their guitars. Other times, guitarist Michael James would trade electric guitar for bass, crouching down as he played in a show of subtlety. It was a profoundly emotional experience, the drummer being in a state of utmost concentration as the guitars swelled and climbed around him. Stage lighting greatly contributed to setting the mood, from a bath of blue when things got sentimental, to a splash of red when chaos ensued, light yellows bursting forth for the moments caught somewhere in between. The band members really seemed to be in a world of their own, getting lost in the music, swaying in time to it. With a performance that was as passionate as it was extensive (and exhaustive!), Explosion in the Sky proved itself a Van Gogh of concerts, painting an aural masterpiece to be fervently enjoyed, if never entirely understood, by its spectators.
Photos by Linda Dunjey Photography