Ah, the Mountain Winery: a venue always been defined by its excellence. On the night of August 29th, there was a fantastic show featuring the impeccable post-rock band, Explosion in the Sky, and Calgary post-punk outfit, Preoccupations (formerly Viet Cong). Both bands had just played FYF Fest in Los Angeles and this show was a very stark contrast to the festival setting they played the weekend before. Although the Mountain Winery is an amphitheater, the very little amount of space between the seating and the stage allowed a more intimate performance from both bands throughout the night.
Preoccupations opened the show with the sun still setting in the background as their dark, dissonant, and complex post-punk set the mood for the rest of the night. While the amount of people in the amphitheater during their set was deficient, they deserved so much more. The amount of energy they put into their songs and the way they were arranged together into one larger set was absolutely phenomenally done. Even the songs from their first record sounded amazing live, which is an amazing feat since there was a lot of compression and noise added in many of the tracks. “March of Progress” and “Pointless Experience” were my two favorite songs they played that night. Hearing them live was an entirely new experience being able to see the energy put into the tracks and how the different members of the band play off one another for their complex musical cues. My only complaint throughout the entire night is that both vocals weren’t mixed very well together and didn’t have the chance to harmonize as they do in their recorded material. However, when a drummer gets so crazy that he knocks over his tom, then any minor details can be easily forgotten.
Once the sun was finally gone from the sky, Explosions in the Sky graced the stage. Not only was their set one of the most impressive sets I’ve ever seen, the song mixing and light show to go along with it were incomparable. When a band plays a song in 9/8 time and the lights change color seamlessly with every kick of the drum is really something special. Just like the lights, the music was insane as well. Although I did expect a wall of lush sounds to be exuded from the various instruments played that night, Explosions in the Sky exceeded all my expectations. As the set went on more and more, the more energy the band had. In the hour and a half they were on stage, there were no breaks except to switch out guitars in the 30 seconds they had while looping the last bar of feedback from the last song. People got up from their seats, thrashing their head and dancing along while they lost their hearing being too close to the PA. One of the members even made playing a tambourine interesting by primally smashing it into the ground like somebody being forced to cut off their own limb. There was so much going on between these five guys that it’s hard to distill the show down to the major moments. Every moment, every beat, and every song was amazing. The audience gave a standing ovation once they were done. Never have I seen such respect and enthusiasm from musicians in the way Explosions in the Sky played that night. Although it may be a long shot, I hope I’d be able to own a live album of their set that night just to relive it again and again.