Saturday, October 19, 2013

Arcade Fire @ 299 Meserole Street, Brooklyn October 18

Lining up early outside the venue
Arcade Fire has been tops on my concert bucket list forever, so it seemed unreal that I actually got through on Ticketmaster with a fan code on the presale for a secret show this week.  With costume or dressy duds mandatory, Paul and I chose a middle ground with a bit of both.  During the evening we saw plenty of everything, and there were so many guys in suits that Paul actually told me, "This is your kind of crowd!"

However, getting there hours early did not pay off. We were in line for hours to place ourselves close to the stage, only to have a curtain rolled back on the side to reveal the real stage.  Of course, now that we think about it how could they have all fit on the tiny set up we camped at, leaving only once for a quick break and beers.  

At least I got to see my musical hero James Murphy up close, as he introduced The Reflektors in his humble way. (This founder of DFA and mastermind of LCD Soundsystem served as a producer for the new album, Reflektor, due out October 29).  Three bobble-head performers like in the video for the title track came out, strumming a bit until the big reveal. Then it was a mad dash when the crowd mentality took over in a crush of people charting a new course for the evening -- so much for fan loyalty or basic concert etiquette.

The Reflektors from our original spot ~6 feet away
Since I was favoring stage left in order to be in front of Will Butler, energetic brother of frontman Win, we were at a total disadvantage for the whole thing. Plus, the new orientation did not allow great site lines with such a low platform (even my music pro hubby Paul says raising it a few feet would not have compromised the sound in the empty warehouse). The first song, "Reflektor," exploded with the new dance-oriented layered sound and Will Butler took over the vocals for the David Bowie cameo on the produced track. It was indeed an appropriate song with the lyrics "we all got things to hide." This lame prank brought out an apology from Win Butler, who said how "It won't be the last time we'll do something that no one thinks is funny." Ugh, really?
Crappy new spot after being punked 50+ feet away 

I usually go see a band after exploring their latest work, so to hear "Joan of Arc" and other new songs for the first time was an unsettling, although novel, experience.  Everything sounded great but I was just catching glimpses of band members through people's shoulders in front of me, mostly of altitudinous Richard Reed Parry.

Sadly, only two older songs were presented as covers of the Montreal band Arcade Fire. "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)" brought out a joyous bounce in the audience, even on a cement floor.  I was surprised at the ecstatic reaction to "Sprawl ll (Mountains Beyond Mountains," one of my favorite songs that I didn't know it was for others, mainly because it highlights the shaky voice of RĂ©gine Chassagne.  And their new song "Afterlife" will soon be added to this list.

Win Butler and Richard Reed Parry
Party anthem "Here Comes the Night Time II," ended the just over one hour set with Win Butler wading through the crowd before exiting, as did the rest of the band.  Dance music started to play over the sound system but everyone remained in place, looking for more.  But Arcade Fire chose the DFA mantra of no encore, so Win Butler came out to explain himself yet again.  He clarified that they would be out to "dance the night away" as he would soon assume the role of DJ.  Most took off into the night, but others remained to get another drink and hang out or dance a bit on garbage strewn, beer soaked floors.  There were no sightings of other band members, they were just hanging out backstage with VIPs such as Aaron Dessner of The National and Chris Tomson of Vampire Weekend.

It's like Arcade Fire wanted to be a smaller, hip DFA band for the night, throwing a warehouse dance party into the wee hours.  The midnight curfew wasn't the only thing holding them back from this goal.  They are a huge, famous, Grammy-winning band -- you just can't go back in time. Of course, we wish we could co back in time too. We're kicking ourselves for not figuring out the ruse and furious that the band would enjoy such careless mayhem. I've now been to an Arcade Fire concert, but I certainly didn't get to see the band.  Here are two videos from a full band vantage point that I never got to view during the show.