It makes more sense than you would think for Explosions in the Sky to play AthFest, the five-day arts and music festival that will devour downtown Athens.
The Texan four-piece — all instruments, no vocals — has been doing a lot with the festival circuit lately, actually.
“We're coming through this side of the country at the time,” said Michael James, who plays guitar and bass. “You might think that an instrumental band is an odd choice for a festival, but I think we enjoy playing festivals and that comes through to the crowd. In the last few years, we've been playing a lot of festivals.”
There are other new things on the slate: now on tour in support of April release “Take Care, Take Care, Take Care,” the band has added a friend, Carlos Torres, to the lineup.
Change, though, even little things, even in individual musical moments, is a part of the process.
“We don't have a singer at all,” James said. “We try to keep it interesting in the instrumental palette. Some of the time, our music itself is louder, sometimes it's quiet — we try to make it dynamic.”
Torres is especially helpful with this, here, on tour.
“We weren't sure how [‘Take Care, Take Care, Take Care’] would translate live,” James said, “and so we brought an extra pair of hands with us.”
Live shows are all the more important for the band since its first break out moments in the early part of the last decade, including a spot on the “Friday Night Lights” movie soundtrack. Explosion’s rolling sonicscapes — which have twang and a sort of restless melancholy — were a fit for the film and its following. Fame increased.
Without a voice to center the stage, the band compels the audience in other ways, building melodies into large echo chambers of sound.
The center is each song; its center — emotion.
Instrumentation allows for a greater exploration of more deeply rooted feelings.
“Take Care” touches on some of that. The album reflects “movement forward, but in an uncertain way, which reflects life,” James said.
Playing right in the middle of the AthFest multi-day lineup, Explosions in the Sky has more in common than just music with its rostermates: music isn’t enough.
“All of us are incredibly moved and inspired by all art,” James said. “We all read a lot and watch films and look at art. We try to take it from all walks of life.”
On the road now for almost 10 years, the band has seen all manner of stages — playing here and elsewhere in America, as well as Europe.
With AthFest on the horizon, its place in the pantheon remains to be decided.
“Nowadays, there’s so many festivals,” James said. “I'm a fan of smaller, boutique kinds of festivals. We've been a band since 1999. In 2003, I think, we started playing at festivals. Some are awesome, some are not so awesome. We're kind of finding out as we go, which one is each.”
EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY
Where: Georgia Theatre
When: Tonight at 8