Perth International Arts Festival: Explosions in the Quay

Explosions in the Sky | Chevron Festival Gardens | ★ ★ ★ ★

Perth fans of Explosions in the Sky were treated to an evening of emotionally-charged and orchestral post-rock with the Texan outfit returning for the first time in a decade to play at the Chevron Festival Gardens as part of this year’s Perth International Arts Festival.

Kill Devil Hills opened the night with a blistering set made up of songs from their most recent albums. Their Gothic country ballads – filled with driving bass and drums, haunting violin parts and twinkling keys – set a fittingly melancholy mood for the rest of the evening. Having previously only seen these guys play more intimate shows, I was impressed they were able to deliver arena rock-like presence to match the scale and state-of-the-art lighting setup of the amphitheater venue.

During the half hour change over, crowds piled in, with the headliners coming on stage to a full house.

Explosions in the Sky took their audience on a compositionally complex, instrumental journey with as much in common with a Hans Zimmer score as a conventional rock show. The six-members regularly swapped instruments, at times playing with two drummers in order to build up multi-layered rhythm patterns.

Some may have had trouble maintaining an attention span over the course of the set which ran well over an hour, however for the most part strong riffing and unexpected changes of pace were enough to keep things fresh and avoid it becoming a dull ‘wall of sound’ experience.

Overall, the show was an introspective occasion that will have left their existing fans satisfied.  As a newcomer, I found it was worth turning out to witness the solid musical craftsmanship, but I felt the show did not explore beyond familiar territory enough to sit amongst the best that this year’s PIAF has to offer.

The Perth International Arts Festival runs until Sunday March 5th. For more information head to perthfestival.com.au

Ned Reilly

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