Caspian and Metavari at Radio Radio: The Past and Future of Post Rock

I remember being blown away by the first Explosions in the Sky record I listened to. It was intricate, delicate, supple guitar lines flowed over solid bass and swelling cymbals, building the mood, building the tension until everything reached critical mass and exploded into this powerful, noisy cacophony of sound that felt imbued with purpose. There were no words, but post rock has no need for words; instead, it’s almost defined by its lack of lyrics. Since that first Explosions in the Sky record (I think it was Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Live), post rock has expanded and evolved to include lots of different bands and variations on the same atmospheric, slow burn feel. Bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Mogwai, and the aforementioned Explosions in the Sky preserved the cinematic, epic arrangements of the early days of post rock, while bands like Pelican and Grails took the sound in new directions, pumping in metal and Middle Eastern influences (respectively).

Today, there’s a virtual glut of post rock bands coursing through the market, some of them blatant ripoffs of earlier material, others forging ahead in new directions. On Tuesday, September 14 (that’s tomorrow), one traditional post rock band and one not so traditional post rock band will come to Indianapolis to wash Radio Radio in atmospherics and pedal sonics. Caspian and Metavari will be playing at Radio Radio on Tuesday, September 14, so Indianapolis music fans better gear up for a night of slow builds and delicate guitar compositions.

Video of Caspian performing “Ghosts of the Garden City” live; Caspian will be playing with Metavari in Indianapolis September 14


The headliner for this Indianapolis event is Caspian, a Massachusetts based post rock band that began life in 2003; initially, they played a few small shows in the area and toured with cinematic post rock band Mono. By 2005, the band had signed with Dopamine Records and released a short EP, You Are the Conductor. Out of that earlier material, Caspian was able to embark on a full tour of the United States before the release of their first full length, The Four Trees in 2008. Their latest album, Tertia, was released in 2009 and spawned tours with Red Sparowes, God is an Astronaut, and Fang Island. Currently, Caspian is working on their third full length, as yet untitled.

Video of Caspian performing “Of Foam and Wave” live; Caspian will be playing with Metavari in Indianapolis September 14


Caspian doesn’t take too many risks with the post rock formula, but they are a tight group with a lot of creative potential. Slow moving compositions piece together different instruments at different times, making each track more of a progression than a typically structured pop song. The approach is nothing new; Caspian’s sound would be at home on any Explosions in the Sky record, but they fill their mold very well. The band is reputed to have an intense live show, which, judging from the power of Tertia, should be an accurate description, especially in a small space like Radio Radio.

Video of Caspian performing “The Raven” live in Virginia; Caspian will be playing with Metavari in Indianapolis September 14

The other band performing at the Indianapolis bar on Tuesday is Indianapolis band Metavari. Metavari formed in 2006 in Fort Wayne, and have since captured the hearts of Indianapolis media and media around the country. They have toured with plenty of well known groups, including Unwed Sailor, El Ten Eleven, Titus Andronicus, and This Will Destroy You. Be One of Us and Hear No Noise is their debut full length, released in 2009. The album garnered great reviews from a number of music blogs and magazines, including, Heave Media, Blurt magazine, and IndieVision Music. These rave reviews were rightfully awarded: Be One of Us and Hear No Noise is a genre bending new direction for post rock. It may not be the most polished piece of work, but it is unique and precise.

Video of Metavari performing live in South Carolina; Metavari will be playing with Caspian in Indianapolis September 14


Unlike many other post rock bands, Metavari mixes digital with analog, electronic with organic. The band utilizes samples, drum loops, digital synths, and beat matching to create the backing tracks for their music, while electric guitars, keyboards, and live drums add power and texture to the mix. Metavari strikes a great compromise between the two mediums of music: neither one detracts from the other, and in some tracks it’s hard the tell where the electronics end and the live instrumentation begins. The band rarely achieves the forceful intensity of Caspian; their tracks are more chill, laid back, and a little more ambient, but they sacrifice none of the emotional power of the “classic” post rock sound. Metavari’s live show is even more interesting: the band utilizes live video streaming in the background to create layered multimedia performances that are the perfect compliment to their beat heavy, art house style.

Video of Metavari performing “Kings Die Like Other Men” live; Metavari will be playing with Caspian in Indianapolis September 14


Caspian and Metavari seem to come from two opposing sides of the post rock spectrum. Caspian embodies all that was good about the early days of post rock, including the complex arrangements, slow buildup to a dramatic climax, and interweaving, reverb heavy guitars. Metavari, on the other hand, take the compositional hallmarks of post rock and cast them in a new, digital sonic palette, fusing electronic beats with vintage rock instrumentation to create chill, ambient post rock tracks. Both bands should provide a unique experience at the Indianapolis music venue on Tuesday. The show starts at 8:00, and tickets are just $5. If somehow you haven’t been exposed to post rock before, go see Caspian and Metavari at Radio Radio on Tuesday, September 14 to see where post rock has been and get a glimpse of where it might be going.

Caspian and Metavari at Radio Radio
Tuesday, September 14 at 8:00 p.m.
Tickets: $5

Radio Radio
1119 E Prospect St
Indianapolis, IN 46220

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