Randall’s Island, NY

I never really said anything about the Arcade Fire concert. It was a far cry from when I went with Kat to see them in February 2005. In fact, here are some of my exact words about that show…

Eventually, some odd music came on. I think it was Win Butler’s grandfather’s music. Then the band appeared. And then, they rocked. Let my try and reproduce the setlist.

Wake Up
Neighborhood #2 (Laika)
No Cars Go
Neighborhood #4 (7 Kettles)
Une Annee Sans Lumiere
Neighbor-hood #3 (Power Out) / Rebellion (Lies)
In the Backseat (?)
Headlights Look Like Diamonds
Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)

[Sigh] I can’t remember very well. Crown of Love and Born on a Train were also played, but I don’t remember when exactly. And there was definitely one more song in the encore.

I know that if you’ve been following this band, you’ve heard or read what I’m about to say before. This concert was the best concert I have ever been to. Coming from me, that doesn’t say much. I have not attended that many concerts. So let me elaborate. I cannot remember a time before seeing the Arcade Fire preform that I felt so close to pure satisfaction, nirvana. Then again, I’ve never been to a concert under the same circumstances. I can’t remember being as close to a band. I can’t remember liking the music as much before hand. I can’t remember a band that interacted with the crowd so well. I can’t remember a band that poured out so much energy, and was so fundamentally earnest in their efforts to not only rock, but establish a warm but fierce intimacy with the audience. Win knew people in the crowd from, apparently, having worked with them from living for a time in Boston. He talked with them. Even at the end of the show, the end of the tour, they came down from the stage and, in funeral procession style, encircled the crowd with their instruments in hand. Win mangled the second highest string on a bass and violently tore apart the strings on a six-string.

And as I said, this left me completely, purely satisfied and free of desire, at least to the extent to which I was aware. I have an extremely elementary understanding of Buddhist philosophy. What I know and believe tells me that Thursday night was a good thing, despite the weather, despite getting lost, and despite paying what was surely too much for tickets. I didn’t even feel that empty, punched-in-the-gut sensation that I normally experience when I pay too much for something.

That passage came from my old LiveJournal. What a time capsule. Anyway, this time around, four bands opened for Arcade Fire, and they were all really good. I’m glad to have finally seen Les Savy Fav live. Tim Harrington, the lead singer, or performer, is crazy and funny, but what’s just plain weird is that his band is totally legit, and they play like he doesn’t exist. Even though I didn’t really care that much about them before the show, I really enjoyed Blonde Redhead. They have a really deep, moody sound that contrasted sharply with Les Savy Fav’s schizophrenia, but they served as an appropriate bridge into LCD Soundsystem’s epic performance. LCD Soundsystem was the only band that night to actually look at home on that huge stage. Their sound, and the accompanying light show impressed this first time LCD Soundsystem listener. Frankly, they outdid Arcade Fire, the headliner. In my concert going experience, the headliner is always louder than the opening acts. Arcade Fire didn’t follow the pattern at this show, and their first two song suffered because the person at the soundboard was probably a little miffed too. Furthermore, the band had a hard time connecting with the crowd, at least to the extend which they did when I saw them two years ago. Contributing to the impersonal experience were the massive, yet cool, visual displays that effectively devoured the band. In an attempt to interact with the crowd, the best Win could do was to bash Mr. Bush, and the best his brother could do was to climb some scaffolding with a drum. Incidentally, it was brother Butler’s birthday, and all this sick person could think was how awful it would be if he fell to his death. Anyway, as much as I don’t like the President, and as much as I like dangerous stunts, I used to think that Arcade Fire was above that. Don’t get me wrong. These guys are great live but they were better when I first saw them. I guess the point is that they’ve changed. But who can blame them. Arcade Fire has been hugely successful, and rightly so. They make good music.

Here are some good pictures that someone from Pitchfork took, and here a slide show that I took. I need to get better at taking photos.

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