Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Explosions in the Sky/Colour Revolt, Workplay Theatre, 10/29/07

Earlier this year when EITS released their fourth full-length album All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone, I did something I typically never do. Something very fanatic. On a rainy Saturday morning while stranded at the office pulling the Bill Lumberg weekend shift I decided to email the band to convey my praise for their music and to ask when they were planning on making their way through the deep south. Much like Mark Smith, Munaf Rayani, and Michael James's cautious, reverbed strums, my email floated into the abyss, never to be answered. No matter, there was plenty of instrumental Lone Star State guitar rock to tide me over in the meantime—whether their new release or soundtrack for Friday Night Lights—until Monday night’s show at Workplay in Birmingham.

Colour Revolt from Oxford, MS opened. Being from near Clyde’s neck of the woods, I had advance notice of what to expect. This is definitely an act to watch out for. Starting out with a slow-burning, mellow number replete with choking feedback and licks that sounded more like orca whales than any man-made instrument, Revolt piqued my interest from the get go. Clyde had warned me about lead singer Jesse Coppenbarger’s voice, but I was admittedly abraded by it when he launched into a series of Kurt Cobain-esque screams from the second song through the end of the set. But much like the third or fourth time I listened to CYHSY, I slowly got over the vocals and settled into the sound, which in turn helped me appreciate how much these rasp howls fit in. My guess is this is the kind of music the 10 and 11 year olds who packed their 5-disc JVC changer with grunge albums create: a nod to the past, but much smarter music. I’m always looking for another excuse to make a trip by the Grove, so maybe Colour Revolt fits the bill.

As the lights went on and the stage cleared to reveal an amp covered with the state flag of the headliner EITS’s home, I found it amusing how intent the 60-year-old roadie was on adjusting the one microphone on the stage. If you don’t know, EITS’s music is completely without words, and it is hard to find words to describe it. Think of driving down a two-lane highway at 2 AM on a Sunday morning, close to home but your mind racing far away from any driveway you are about to pull into. EITS is a good soundtrack for such a moment.

The stage was for the most part bare, and minimal lights throughout, probably because most will agree that the music provides the atmosphere at this show. The house was quite packed for a Monday night (reported as a sell out, but it was definitely not wall to wall), but for the most part silent and reverent for the orchestral sounds before them. The band played a non-stop hour and fifteen minute set scaling the entire range of tone and emotion. When I first discovered this band in Rolling Stone's David Fricke's "Out There" column, I read about their unexpected physical performance considering the content of their music: writhing on the ground during solos, beating guitars on foreign objects. Some of that was evident Monday night, with a few windmill guitar strums and broken shoulder straps (suffered on "Six Days at the Bottom of the Ocean"). This made for what seemed like a truly exhausted Rayani when he returned to the stage to humbly refuse calls for an encore, proclaiming that the band was “dead in the water”, but praising the “unmatched” crowd. A pleasing show, but somewhat disappointing in their material for me, as I yearned to hear some more “headbangers” and possibly some of my favorites from The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place (such as "First Breath After Coma" and "The Only Moment We Were Alone"). Also, a "A Slow Dance" plus “Your Hand in Mine” would have made a great encore. But, it is understandable that these guys were beat, fitting this show as primarily a filler between their tour with the Smashing Pumpkins. And I guess this is truly an “art rock” band, going more for the overall product rather than a quick, catchy fix here and there. But the tell-tale sign for me is would I pay to see them again—and the answer is definitely.

1 comment:

Clyde said...

The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place is without a doubt numero uno for me.