Explosions In The Sky + Harmony @ The Hi-Fi, 13.12.2011

My last gig for 2011.

Having made a first New Year’s resolution to stop photographing at Woodland at the Kurt Vile show last week, after tonight I decide that it’s time for a second resolution come January – to stop going to see instrumental post rock bands.  I usually go and see these acts based on recommendation and /or reputation but time after time I find them to be fairly boring affairs.  Quiet/Loud/Quiet/Repeat for 90 minutes.  Sure there are times when they improve, usually when they’re at their loudest volume levels and the undertones and textures come to the fore, but these moments are often too fleeting when stuck within the rigid template of the bands I keep going to see.  Maybe it’s just that I was spoilt by seeing my bloody valentine play ‘The Holocaust’ three nights in a row and knowing that nothing is ever going to surpass that as a movement of extreme noise.

I’m surprised by how popular Explosions In The Sky are.  Although I don’t come to The Hi-Fi that often, it’s only the third time I’ve been here and they’ve had the upstairs balcony open (The Drones’ show on opening night and OFWGKTA being the other two).  Maybe I just have a habit of going to see bands that aren’t very popular.  Whilst most/all post rock bands aren’t usually much to look at, annoyingly EITS play in almost complete darkness.  As the songs go on for so long, instead of the usual “first three”, we’ve been given 15 minutes in the photo pit.  I keep anticipating that the lighting levels will go up when the band hit the “loud” phase of a song but keep being disappointed that nothing happens at these times.  Watching people watching an instrumental post rock band is a weird experience; a whole room of people stood still, nodding their heads in unison at the appropriate times.

Having made those comments about post rock bands, the real reason I’m here tonight is to see the opening act, Harmony.  Although this is the third time I’ve seen the band (the other couple of times being down in Melbourne, supporting Ben Salter at the Northcote Social Club and a week later supporting No Anchor at the Old Bar), it’s the first time photographing them.  Requesting to cover them tonight was also brought about by not being able to get to either of their two Brisbane shows the week before.  Photographing them tonight also means that I’ve photographed all three ex-members of mclusky in the last week; Harmony’s bassist Jon Chapple tonight, and Andrew Falkous and Jack Egglestone at last week’s Future Of The Left gig.

Over the last few months, the band have become one of my favourite new(ish) Australian bands, particularly when they play live.  I guess they could be lazily described as a more gospel and (probably) more primal but less abrasive version of The Drones.  Although I think I read that their album was recorded live and very quickly after the band formed, it comes nowhere near doing justice to how they sound playing live right in front of you.  There’s something about seeing a band that relies heavily on the presence and power of group backing vocals that just can’t be captured in a recording.  It’s good to see a few days after the gig that they win ‘Best New-ish Act Mess+Noise’s annual Readers Poll and come in at Number 13 in the Critics Poll for the albums of the year.  As M+N’s album review summarises “The stuff that will never win any awards or top any triple j polls, but fucking well should”.

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