Arcade Fire Rocks the Island
Written by Bwog Staff
No, this has nothing to do with hate crimes, and yes, it happened several days ago. But sometimes things slip through the cracks, and Bwog newbie Beth Gordon says it’s never too late to hear about this band.
I’ve been told that if Queens and the Bronx took a shit, it would be Randall’s Island. Nevertheless, Arcade Fire’s last show in New York City for the next couple years was enough to make it worth the trek this Saturday. I found my way to the Island around six, listening to Les Savy Fav from the walkway to the venue. By the time they searched my bag and scanned my ticket, Blonde Redhead had begun their set. I haven’t heard much of Blonde Redhead, so I decided to walk around, eat funnel cake and push my way into the middle of the crowd. I had to be prepared for LCD Soundsystem.
LCD Soundsytsem was fantastic. They played songs mostly from their newest album, Sound of Silver (2007). The 25,000 people who crossed the Triborough Bridge packed as close to the stage as possible to see James Murphy & Co. play triumphantly. Members of Arcade Fire joined them onstage for a few songs; Murphy (vocals for LCD) declared he had to tire them out so they could “have an edge” over the headliner. Their electronica/dance/pop sound was even better live than the recorded version—the masses jumping up and down were certainly feeling it. They ended the set with the song “New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down,” which was a bit slower than the previous songs, but the perfect exit for the native New York band and the New York audience.
Then we waited, still packed together on the asphalt, for Arcade Fire. The beginning of their set began with black and white videos (toy monkeys playing symbols, a black female jazz singer) on the jumbotron screens. Then the Canadians came onstage with the Neon Bible (2007) emblem (in red neon) on the red curtain behind them—all very dramatic, but appropriately so. They started with “Black Mirror,” the first track on their newest album. Throughout the rest of the set, they hit the right balance between Neon Bible and Funeral, their previous album. It almost turned into a cut-off jeans and American Apparel t-shirt dance party. Every song was epic—they sounded so definite, the chorus of the sweating band members, the violins, and operatic production. Most people in the audience sang along with Win Butler (vocals, guitar). Régine Chassagne (vocals, keyboard, accordion), Butler’s wife, looked angry while singing and then adorably coy when turning away from the microphone.
Arcade Fire’s last song, “Rebellion” was cathartic. The “ooo”-ing throughout, somewhere between a chant and a moan, caught everyone in a trance of awe and emotion. Instead of clapping and whistling to bring them back for an encore, the audience started humming or whistling the tune of the last song. Then the encore ended on “Wake Up”—possibly one of the better-known Arcade songs, which evoked pure heartache and reverence. Apparently they went through the audience with acoustic guitars for a second encore, covering the Violent Femmes song “Kiss Off,” even as people had begun filing out to the one pedestrian exit and walking in a herd across the Bridge.
The stop-and-go pedestrian traffic back to Manhattan couldn’t sour that night.
Picture shamefully stolen from BrooklynVegan.