MONTCLAIR, NJ—The general admission area was a sea of flannel with the smell of beer adding to the atmosphere. Overall, the vibe of the night was relaxed, yet there was no denying the electricity in the air as the excitement for Austin, Texas-based Explosions In The Sky grew and grew. One wouldn’t have guessed it to be a Monday night judging by the amount of people who came out to the venue.
Supporting the post-rock quartet was Brooklyn’s own The Antlers. The band wooed the crowd with tunes off of their latest release, Burst Apart, which is out now. The Antlers play the saddest music I’ve ever listened to, but it is incredible! The quartet opened up with “Parentheses” one of the strongest tracks off of Burst Apart. Along with the first tune off of their latest disc, the quartet performed a breathtaking version of “Atrophy” off of 2009’s Hospice.
With only The Antlers as a supporting act, the crowd didn’t have to wait long for what they came for. After The Antler’s equipment was removed from the stage, an amp with the Texan flag draped over it was brought to the forefront, signaling the headliner would soon grace the stage. In what was their first-ever New Jersey show, Explosions In The Sky took control of the stage as if it was a familiar place. To my pleasant surprise, the band’s set included a healthy balance of tunes from their previous releases as well as their latest album, Take Care, Take Care, Take Care.
From the moment Munaf Rayani picked up his guitar, I could only guess what was to come. The crowd was a mix of gasps and cheers when the band opened up with “The Only Moment We Were Alone” off of 2003’s The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place. No matter where you were sitting or standing there was no doubt that you could feel the emotion emitting from both the band and the audience. Throughout the course of the night I even witnessed the shedding of tears, even though the only words that the band spoke were in the form of a greeting and farewell.
Following the first tune, Explosions In The Sky went into “Last Known Surroundings” off of their latest release. The hypnotizing and screeching guitars further memorized the crowd. Without any hesitation, “Catastrophe And The Cure” began and the theater erupted in applause. It’s hard to pinpoint which song was the fan favorite of the night, but this ranks as one of the contenders. The rest of the set included “Postcard From 1952,” “Greet Death,” Six Days At The Bottom Of The Ocean,” “Let Me Back In,” “The Birth And Death Of Day” and ended with “The Moon Is Down.”
The band’s set flowed perfectly. From the energy they displayed onstage and their sound, everything felt right. It was hard to ignore the Chris Hrasky’s thumping kick drum, which you could feel through the floor. The crowd responded readily and heads bopping to the powerful tunes that were being played right before their eyes. It’s hard to deny that this band says it all without saying a word.