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A life lesson to all: the biggest disappointments arrive at the most unexpected times. How can you possibly expect one of the most prolific and renowned instrumental rock bands in the country to botch a show in the media capital of the world? For the band’s sake, it must be disclaimed that most of the elements that went wrong weren’t their fault. The Palladium’s retro appeal and vivid lighting makes it – in theory – a perfect venue for Explosion in the Sky’s colorful compositions. I couldn’t help but wallow in giddiness when I saw the entrance’s sign disclaiming that tonight’s show may exhibit disorienting strobe lights. But when the foursome took the stage, the Palladium itself introduced the first disappointment. There were no strobe lights, nor was there any semblance of an interesting light show to accompany EITS. The nearly color-static ceiling illuminations sprayed an obscenely bright glow onto the listeners below; you wouldn’t have guessed it was nighttime in the Palladium. If I can count the acne specks on an emo tween 20 feet away, we have a problem. ETIS’ music is intimate, therefore beckoning an intimate complement. The Palladium provided perhaps the brightest show I’ve ever been to, and though it’s only lighting, it shattered the vibe one would expect – nay, demand – at an EITS concert.

Normally, it would be easy to get over such a trivial element. After all, the music should speak for itself. But, what if it doesn’t? There’s the common phrase, “Oh, they’re bad live!” EITS is a unique testament to this saying. Opening with “The Only Moment We Were Along”, they displayed their musicianship and interplaying prowess with humble joy. Chris Hrasky’s drums kept the band on precise target, while Munaf Rayani’s, Mark Smith’s, and Michael James’s guitars alternated fluently between shimmering, stratospheric licks and heavenly, droning chords. After strolling through a couple more tracks, the crowd went particularly wild at the explosive power chord onset of “Greet Death.” Like the tracks before it, “Death” segued into its extended, tender interludes, and it became clear: EITS’ music isn’t meant to be experienced standing in a stuffy room with a couple thousand jaded, chatty bohemians compulsively diving into their cell phones and digital cameras. EITS is more suitable for a seated theatre and dim aura; for a road trip or a relaxing evening with your headphones on; for accompanying a film, or some sort of visual medium. Any multitude of visual complements would’ve spiced up the night, or at the very least made the many quieter moments – often overborne with incessant fan howling and a flurry of phone texting – more tolerable. By the end of “A Poor Man’s Memory”, the weary crowd seemed ready to go home. I know I was.

The energetic instrumental whirlwind of “Catastrophe and the Cure” helped liven up a sorely logy crowd. The night closed with the gradual crescendo of “Memorial”. After a never-ending build-up, the Palladium burst into a supernova of guitar distortion and headbanging that aptly compensated for the lack of an encore. The moment encapsulated the band’s name and thankfully ended the lackluster hour and forty minutes on a strong note. To listen to such beautiful music in less-than-pristine circumstances is a disservice to EITS’ music. Do yourself a favor and enjoy them the way they are meant to be heard: in a soothing atmosphere without the intrusion of other people.

(Photos: Lindsey Best)

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