I literally thought I walked into a dream as I entered the Santa Barbara Bowl on October 15th, 2011. I was surrounded by what looked like a little piece of Big Bear nestled in Santa Barbara. The air was a nice 65 degrees and the sun was setting as I walked up the hill to get to my seat. You could take the tram, but enjoying the perfect concert weather wasn’t something I wanted to miss out on. As I finally got to Section J Row 8 Seat 68, tickets wonderfully provided by Death Cab For Cutie Promoters, I became in awe of just how beautiful the whole venue was; you can say I was really excited for this concert tonight. After a little while the Explosions in The Sky stage techs came out to check the amps and guitars, and just as the sun disappeared, so did the stage techs and Explosions in The Sky came out.
The crowd cheered as Mark Smith, Michael James, Chris Hrasky, and Munaf Rayani came out to grab their instruments and set up their amps and drums. After a couple minutes Rayani stepped up to the microphone to thank everyone for coming and then he started playing “Catastrophe and The Cure.” Each of their songs were like 10- 15 minutes each so their set was only four songs long. It sounds like it would get old but the band was so into it the entire time that it was hard to lose focus from the music. I’ve never seen a band be so powerful without words before; truly inspiring and they made me proud to be a fan.
The key track of the night had to be “Your Hand In Mine.” When Smith started the song he actually missed a note which made the whole crowd laugh; just goes to show how in tune everyone was to the music that night. The overall sound of the band was fantastic too, and the Santa Barbara Bowl sound system did justice to both bands that night. At the end of their set, everyone stood up to cheer and Rayani came back up to the microphone and simply said “thank you everyone and to Death Cab for having us, hope you enjoyed it.” Sincere and simple, amazing set. Up next was the headliner for the night, Death Cab For Cutie.
Ben Gibbard started off the night playing piano for “I Will Possess Your Heart,” the song showcased how well his voice sounds live and let me say, it’s fantastic. Perfect pitch, sounds even better than the recordings. There were four screens behind the band that either had a looping light show or some scenery to add to certain songs. The music was great but stage presence lacked; it was hard to not get lost or keep focused on what was happening. Though in their defense, Gibbard had to be glued to the microphone with the amount of lyrics in each song and the entire band changed instruments every single song. It was very cool to see their versatility.
Key tracks of the night were “I Will Follow You Into The Dark” and “Codes and Keys.” Both songs had everyone singing along to them and the band members got really into “Codes and Keys.” The disappointment of the night was “You Are A Tourist.” As big as the song is, it didn’t have the same effect on stage. Everything sounded awkwardly empty, though it didn’t stop fans from standing up and singing along to the riff.
Explosions deserves a 9.5/10, amazing set and for true music lovers you’d appreciate how passionate they are on stage. Death Cab I give a 6/10. Their set didn’t keep me entertained for as big of a fan as I am. Overall, 4/5 for the night.