“Hello San Francisco. We’re Explosions in the Sky. We live in Texas. Here it is.”

It begins so quietly, with the slow plucking of electric guitars and the steady marching of the drums. But those who know Explosions in the Sky know that their music can take you places. The set plays out more like a symphony, with not a single break in between movements. They’re a band that can take the sad butterflies in your stomach and set them fluttering, putting you through an entire emotional roller-coaster in all of six minutes. It’s music that is at the same time both gorgeous and lovely, and absolutely heartbreaking. While they may be an instrumental band, they’re as poetic and lyrical as anything else out there.

It’s hard to imagine a more perfect setting for such a band than the Palace of Fine Arts. Explosions is, in my opinion, one of those bands that needs to be experienced in a truly intimate setting to fully appreciate all the nuances and intricacies their work has to offer. Being an entirely seated theater, this is obviously a more classy venue than most, and yet, it was hard to keep from swooning back and forth to the luscious melodies, or to stop from feeling overwhelmed when their absolute wall of sound hits you square in the face. And indeed, punching you in the face is exactly what they did. It’s hard to imagine many bands that sound this good when a guitarist is simply dragging his instrument across the stage floor, producing nothing but noise from his guitar.

A standing ovation well deserved.

-Written and photographed by Andrew Li

Listen to Explosions in the Sky’s “Your Hand in Mind” below.