Arcade Fire, LCD Soundsystem
Oct. 3, 2007
BY ROXANN SLATE
The buildup to this show was palatable. At first I thought it was just my friends, but eventually it became apparent it was the whole city debating. I attempted to ignore those who were unsure if they wanted to part with their money, I doubted the faith of those who fretted about the weather, and I worried for those who had never listened to either of the bands.
I bought tickets as soon as they went on sale. I was fine paying $15.50 in fees for my two tickets. I would pay any amount of money to see LCD Soundsystem. I am not a huge Arcade Fire fan. I remember the arrival of Funeral, and I felt there wore other obscure Canadian bands that deserved my attention. The huge success of Neon Bible shows I had a different reaction than the rest of the music world.
In early March of this year I read an article in The New York Times Magazine, called “One Very, Very Indie Band.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/04/magazine/04arcade.t.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1). It portrayed an overly poetic and “very, very indie” image of Arcade Fire. The author, Darcy Frey wrote. “… They embraced the chaos,” audio engineer Mark Davis says. “They were like, ‘Let’s everybody play in the room and throw mikes at it and see how it sounds! Let’s jump off a cliff and see what happens at the bottom!’ On one song, the final vocal was the first one recorded: The band set up on the church stage; Win went outside onto the back steps with headphones and a mandolin and sang into the night.
The rest of the article goes on to tell cute stories of the band’s past, the transition from hole-in-the-wall clubs to touring Europe, and how you can go out to dinner with major record labels and still not sign with them, all the while giving the reader the sense that they are the archetype of socialistic “too-cool-for-everything” alternative culture. This article solidified my dislike of Arcade Fire. Despite it all I bought the tickets. I knew they would be an entertaining skeptical.
LCD Soundsystem stole my heart. I love everything about their albums, and I loved how it translated live. Interviews with lead singer James Murphy commonly convey a club kid all grown up exhausted and stifled by singing the same songs over and over again. Regardless of Murphy’s media persona, he told us that when people saying being in band is hard they are lying.
Their energy was contagious yet I felt confined by a crowed that wasn’t moved.
I was a rare island in an archipelago of LCD Soundsystem fans. I was comforted by the few distant flailing arms and head motions that were too vigorous to be polite bobbing.
A sea change occurred around me about halfway through Arcade Fire’s set. Neon Bible is an excellent title for their album. Its sounds swell and churn with an inhuman power. Throughout each song, the eyes of those around me became large and sincere as they sang along with every word. Each member of the band traded instruments throughout the night, using their whole bodies to play them.
No song was minimally plucked and hummed. Each song was an opportunity to offer their souls to some greater Being.
The art direction of Arcade Fire set was exquisite. It was apparent that the sepia-tone film snippets projected behind the band were carefully selected from a wide variety of possible “warm tones.” The coordination of close-ups and the firing of neon lights synched with the songs, instead of the all-too-common haphazard display of effects.
At the end of the night I wasn’t converted, I don’t plan on joining their eclectic church. I still feel equally envious and disgusted by their hyper-cool, extreme indie lifestyle. I will still continue to snub Arcade Fire in my own way, while reading every interview they do, and buying another ticket if they ever come back to town.
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