Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Arcade Fire Live

The Greek Theater
Berkeley, CA

I got tickets for this show months ago. Through the magic of the internet, I was able to get tickets and convince my friends to get tickets moments after I found out about the show. I don't listen to the Arcade Fire all that much, but I respect what they do, and I knew they'd make an amazing live act.

They went on a little before ten, after opening act Electralane. Their set started with monitors on stage showing a female preacher going on breathlessly about the spirit, before saying "you gotta get rid of your heels, lady, there's no time for heels. You need to get your combat boots on!" That got a thunderous applaud, and then the Arcade Fire, all ten of them, took the stage.

They were dolled up in suspenders and similarly retro outfits, like post-apocolyptic indie rock Amish. All of them took turns playing different instruments (Regine even took drums on a couple of tracks, which makes me respect her that much more). And they were all totally into it. The violinists bounced up and down throughout the tracks, Regine danced awkwardly and wonderfully, and Will Butler banged his head like animal and beat on shit. They were energized, enthusiastic, and seemed to be having a hell of a time.

I don't go to tons of shows, and the last few I've been to have mostly been DJ sets, so it was amazing to see a band create such a big sound live on stage. I had been hearing a lot about the anniversary of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and I couldn't help hearing some of the Beatles innovative studio techniques referenced every time the violins came in or someone jumped on the organ. I love electronic music, I love computer-generated sounds and beats, but there is something truly inspiring about hearing all the instruments come together in person.

As we were leaving, I heard some snotty hipster say to a friend "It was a great show…too bad the crowd sucked." I have to disagree. One of the coolest things about the show was being able to be around so many people sharing the experience. The Arcade Fire are a band that require commitment and devotion. They are a band that helps you through break ups and deaths and bad days. It was amazing to see the crowd responding to hearing their favorite songs played live. I spend so much of my life here in the City surrounded by people but never connecting with them on any human level, so having a shared experience with thousands was no small event.

It's true, however, that we were not the most kinetic audience ever: Most of the seated audience stayed seated, although there were a few rebels in my row who bravely stood up and rocked the fuck out. I was not among them.

In the end, it was great show by a great band at a great venue, and it made me regret not going to more live shows, and vow to correct that in the future.

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