Sound on Sound Review: Explosions in the Sky

ATX’s instrumental innovators pass festival torche

Close your eyes, crack open your long-term memory, and it’s Waterloo Park, 2007, when Explosions in the Sky headlined Fun Fun Fun Fest, and began their ascension to post-rock royalty.

Photo by David Brendan Hall

Speaking volumes to their position in Austin’s rock firmament, as Sunday’s storms tore the Sound on Sound schedule to soggy shreds, stage managers moved heaven and earth (and Young Thug’s set) to ensure the live quintet arrived as ordained. Après le déluge, Thursday started late and ran short, Courtney Barnett scampered through a curtailed slot, and the aforementioned Atlanta rapper was shunted around for 4.5 hours.

All just to keep EITS where they belonged.

Eight months ago, they unveiled new full-length The Wilderness in a Paramount Theatre double-header. Their matinee alone will go down in live music capital history. This hometown return found them more contemplative, but no less engrossing.

A good EITS set beats most bands’ best day, and while a shade under those scalding, transformative Downtown shows, no SOS closer could replace them. They still fought what the weather wrought: a semi-functional lighting rig, the mystery-inducing smoke machine fighting the wind, a struggling PA, and sound bleed from the stages in the woods, causing impromptu Big Freedia interruptions during mellower moments.

Yet their presence alone sealed the deal that on its inaugural weekend, SOS became FFF’s true successor. Not the mini-mega-fest it became, but in terms of its spirit of innovation. Like a local instrumental fivepiece headlining, effortlessly fluctuating from delicacy to devastation.

Now, about that EITS/Freedia collaboration ….

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Explosions in the Sky, Sound On Sound 2016, Courtney Barnett, Thursday, Young Thug, Big Freedia

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