Last Thursday marked the opening of Salt Lake Citys annual Twilight Concert Series a free weekly concert series in downtown SLC that has played host to dozens of acts since its inception a half decade ago. This years lineup is no less stunning than those of previous years, including appearances from every walk of music (see: here).
For the kick-off to the 2011 series, the organizers decided to go a little noisier, with No Age opening for Explosions in the Sky. Series director Casey Jarman spoke for all of SLC when he approached the mic to introduce Explosions and said, Its a pleasure to be back. Truly, for everyone involved bands, organizers, fans, bystanding homeless men (Pioneer Parks forte)– it was a wonderful nostalgia to have the series running again. Its existence was up in the air last summer, when its usual arena, the Gallivan Center, was under construction. It was hazy again this year when it was not clear where the series would land its original Gallivan Center or the originally temporary Pioneer Park. But once the first first notes were played, it was back in the saddle for the tapestry of SLC faces.
Sadly, No Age proved to be a bit off-putting to the mellow audience. Ninety percent of the crowd either headed for a less-noisy corner of the park or faced the L.A. noise-rock duo with blank stares as they awaited their beloved Austin-based post-rockers. For those more familiar with No Age, or at least those willing to listen, No Age put on a heavily upbeat set that included barn-burners from their latest album Everything In Between, with old favorites riddled throughout. And in the half hour they were allotted, they were able to eat through quite a bit of their back catalogue, including Fever Dreaming, Miner, and a shirtless version of Everybodys Down. The audience, however, seemed unenthused.
When Explosions in the Sky emerged (after a 45-minute changeover including a brief message from our, um, beloved mayor), however, it was all eyes on them. The crowd held a certain reverence for the band and their epic instrumentals as they ran through their set that included much less of their most recent album, Take Care, Take Care, Take Care, than was anticipated. After opening with 2003 track The Only Moment We Were Alone, there were a few new cuts (Postcard From 1952, Last Known Surroundings), but they mostly stuck to their regular guns. The Birth and Death of the Day and Your Hand In Mine were greeted with particular fanfare as the band played through their hour and a half of huge post-rock.
And I dont mean to come across as snobbish, but Explosions has never been Godspeed You! or even Mogwai, and comparatively speaking, the set left something to be desired. But overall, they played a fantastic live show with as much charisma and energy as a post-rock band can provide, and they did it to an audience of adoring fans. The show ended on a note of triumph a small encore and a swift goodbye to the tens of thousands of fans and music lovers gathered to see them.
All in all, it was a wonderful night for music, but more importantly a wonderful night for music in Salt Lake City, which, in the end, is what the Twilight Concert Series is all about.