03|23|09   Explosions In The Sky at SXSW 2009

The fireworks at the end of EITS's set.
The fireworks at the end of EITS’s set.

So, SXSW is pretty much done now – at least for us. Some people are staying on for today, but there isn’t much happening anymore, and, truth be told, I’ve just about had all I can take of it anyhow :).

I’ll be writing more about my general impressions and our experience at SXSW over the next few days (don’t expect it to be a glowing review, though), but for now I would just like to gush a bit about seeing one of my favorite bands play live last night! :)

For the entirety of SXSW I was really only holding my breath for one band, namely Explosions In The Sky (EITS). Now I’m sure there were other great bands at SXSW this year – there were after all 1400 bands or so playing – but of all the bands I knew, they were at the top of my list to see.

EITS played at the river shores at night, where the band was framed against the brightly lit skyline of the lonstar’s capitol – the setting, truly, couldn’t have been more grand. When the guys took the stage you could tell that they were totally overwhelmed by how many people had come out to see them in their own hometown of Austin. The crowd must have easily numbered in the thousands, and it seemed pretty obvious that this was going to be one of the biggest and most memorable shows of their career.

The show itself was beautifully performed, but one thing just about killed it for me: the sound!

The guitars and the bass were constantly cutting in and out (cable fault? drunk engineer falling asleep at the desk? who knows…), the snare was overbearing compared the guitars, standing a smitten to the left of the stage you could hear zero of what the guitarist on the other side was playing (perhaps some asshole of an engineer fancied a wide stereo mix of the guitars?). There were numerous other sound debacles during the evening as well. Suffice it to say that not one single song during the whole set was mixed to the point where you could hear the three guitars in a well-balanced mix. Very disappointing.

Finally, though, one thing made it all right again: fireworks. During their soaring last song, fireworks explode all over the night-time sky. Obvious, perhaps… but undeniably perfect and beautiful. So, a great ending, right?

Almost. Unfortunately, the crowd goes nuts and yells for encores like crazy, but the fireworks just keep going and going and going with no EITS to be seen. The firework spectacle is now beginning to turn somewhat comically meandering. A guy behind me tells his friend “just like the music… a lot of false finales.” The crowd, however, doesn’t budge and you can still hear shouts for more songs ten minutes after they played their final chord.

Finally, the guitarist walks back on stage, you hear the familiar hum of a cable being moved around inside the socket of a guitar, and everyone cheers, for we interpret this as the sound of him plugging his guitar back in to play us one final song.

It was the sound of him unplugging it.

The audience finally disperses, but not before someone screams out “Assholes!” at the top of his voice.

Explosions, of course, aren’t. They played beautifully. Everything was set to be the perfect concert – it’s just a pity that, in the end, it never managed to be it.

Yay! Check out the new Enright House Shop I just finished making! Even if you’re not the type of person who buys music anymore, do take a look at how pretty and shiny it is! :)

View Comments

  • TravisATX

    I totally agree with you. I enjoy EITS so much and have heard what they can really offer on an outside stage before at lollapalooza 2008. I was about 80 yards out to the right of the stage where the sound should have been just fine and I was wondering the same thing about the sound. I was suspecting blown fuses in the speakers or amplifiers because EITS was by far the most powerful band of the night and the sound guys probably werent prepared. We all wish it could of been better, event he EITS crew. I’m suprised they didnt try to fix it mid show. Just my 2cents, good article btw

  • Mark

    Hey Travis, thanks for weighing in. I’ll be seeing them play in Chicago in July. Can’t wait to see them play again!

  • sammy

    does anyone know the songs they played at that concerte!?!?

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