Last night I had the shit kicked out of me by the Arcade Fire.
In the afternoon I saw a spot of theatah with some friends and then showed up to the Underground for the Arcade Fire show. And these guys really have blown up, my oh my there was quite a line-up. Then one of my friends decided the ten dollars was too much for him to spend on a band he didn't really know, so he got in the Lexus and drove back to London. Poor guy. In retrospect, it might have been criminal to charge any less for the show.
The first of the opening bands was Heston Rifle. They play what might be described as post rock metal. Violin and guitars and interweaving melodies and then lots of hardcore noise-wall rocking. The violinist was cute but she kept hiding back by the rear speaker-stacks, and the bassist played really hard and made his fingers bleed all over his guitar. I guess it was pretty cool, but not really my cup of tea, so to speak.
Belle Orchestre followed, and they were awesome. They called for silence by raising their right hands and just waiting for the crowd to quiet down a bit and then launched into their orchestral intensely fun music. They used a wide variety of instrumentation, and at one point the guy with the french horn and the guy with the trumpet went out into the crowd and played a bit. Lots of neat percussing with chains and multiple drumsticks and stuff as well. Three of the members were shared with Arcade Fire as well. Overall they were pretty awesome, similar vein to Arcade Fire but a bit lighter and sunny. I really wish I'd had the money for their CD.
And then it was time for The Arcade Fire. And it was an instant sort of 'holy shit' moment that almost gave me chills. They did Laika first and Richard Reed Perry (the distinctive looking fellow with the glasses) went manic and started smashing everything with his drum sticks.. the stage, keyboards, tambourines, you name it. There were splinters flying, and damn it was intense. And with such an awe inspiring initial impression working away at piquing my exuberence, the show progressed. Win's voice was pretty rough (listening to the album, the way he sings really doesn't seem healthy) but it didn't make too much difference. I would have wished that the audience could've all sang along every single word a la a U2 concert, but.. maybe in a couple years. The slow songs often missed a bit of punch due to Win's hurting vocals but they were still awesome, and the fast songs kicked major major ass. They played everything from Funeral plus four other songs which were likely all from the EP (I know at least No Cars Go was). They had really good, entertaining stage banter as well, which is always a plus.. talking about how they finally realized there was more to Hamilton than the 20 ft around Underground, etc. They had all sorts of fun instruments as well... accordian, french horn, violin, stand up bass (sometimes bowed), 2 keyboards, 2 xylophones, drums, bass guitar, guitar, 12 string guitar, bells on guy's legs, fun flute, triangle, steel drum, lots of tambourines and various other percussive type things, and maybe some other things I'm forgetting or didn't manage to notice. And they also switched instruments like mad.. Regine played drums for a couple songs, and they were constantly moving around. Except for the violinist who stayed put on the other side of the stage, but I don't think she's technically in the band. Regardless, It was powerful, powerful stuff. It's difficult to describe the music, I suppose earnest, honest, emotional, and soaring would be some choice adjectives for it, as well as wickedly good. The highlight of the show for me was probably Power Out, wickedly followed up by Rebellion (Lies), and Tunnels was also high up on the list, but there was nary a dull moment to be found. I have definitely not used that much energy at a show this year, nor have I heard that much audience enthusiasm at a club show... ever, I think. I was totally stoked afterwards and so bought a t-shirt and a CD, and then some gatorade to rebuild those electrolites and have green sweat. Oh I'm a good little consumer, I am. The excitement and rush lasted well after the concert had ended, which is the sign of an evening supremely well spent. It's hard to decide definitively, but The Arcade Fire are at least dangerously close to being the best live band (out of 30+) that I've seen in the last three years.