Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Arcade Fire w/ Electrelane @ Chicago Theater

I’m not really sure how to write about this experience. I knew that being in the 4th row would be phenomenal, but it surpassed my greatest hopes. Having just seen the band perform two nights previous, you might expect me to have been sated to the point where my excitement had diminished a bit. But if you know me at all, you realize just how much I crave seeing this band perform live. I liken it to pining away for a woman from your school or office for months – maybe even years, only to finally hook up with her one night when you weren’t even expecting it. Not that anything like that has ever happened to me, but you get what I’m saying. Even though I had these tickets in hand for a few months, reality didn’t set in until the band took the stage.

Being that close made for a wholly different concert than what I’d witnessed on Friday. Even though they probably played equally well, it was six times the show simply because I was so near to all the action. The band entered from stage left this time, eschewing the aisle entrance they deployed on Friday. The first song was Wake Up, which happened to be the unplayed song I most missed hearing Friday, and I had chills for its entirety. That is such a powerful opener, the same one that kicked off their set at Lollapalooza 2005, I can’t see why they wouldn’t use it for every show. You have all ten band members singing together at full volume. I snuck a glance over my shoulder and I swear that every spectator in the packed house was doing the same thing. It was visceral. I felt like I’d received my money’s worth already.
From there, the band played a set almost identical to Friday night’s show. During (Antichrist Television Blues), it became clear that even the songs I’m not that enamored with were going to be amazing from this vantage point. The only one that still felt a bit flat was Black Mirror. The whole theater went nuts for No Cars Go. I still think this version is not as good as the original, but the energy flowing around the hall was impressive.

I spent a lot of time focusing on the various band members’ level of musicianship. The obvious point of note is how they all switch instruments throughout the performance, and all of them sing. Few bands have the versatility to accomplish what they do. But beyond that, they are all extremely talented, playing their parts with equal parts skill and ferocity. The most impressive onstage performance was by Régine Chassagne. She dances around the stage as the band’s internal muse, taking time to look crowd members in the eye, imploring them to sing along with her. When she was on our side of the stage, I was compelled to watch her because she was so engaging.

Neon Bible contains many criticisms of church, but at the same time, Arcade Fire is somewhat of a church themselves. Emotion hit me throughout the performance as I was dancing and jumping around. I felt like I easily could have been at one of those Pentecostal churches where people are overwhelmed. The pinnacle of the evening was easily when they closed their main set with Power Out going right into Rebellion (Lies). It’s an extremely powerful coupling. Again, I glanced behind me during the chorus of Power Out and I swear that everyone was shouting along. I felt that I was able to get a glimpse of what it must be like to perform to an audience like that. It’s clear why the band plays so hard and puts so much energy into their performance - they get it right back. This was definitely the best show I’ve been to in several years, and certainly in my top ten all time. What an experience.
Electrelane put on a damn good performance as the opening act. They sound quite a bit like Stereolab, but rawkin’ – which is what Stereolab should have been anyway. Mia Clark was absolutely shredding her guitar, seemingly in her own world as she performed. Kudos for wearing high heels while doing it, too. During their last song, they bled over into a brief, wild cover of “96 Tears" by ? and the Mysterians, which is pretty much the best cover a band could ever choose to do. Great set by them. They’re playing the Empty Bottle tonight if you’re free…

Other notes: I sat next to Tim Robbins and Rachel McAdams who are in town filming a movie. McAdams was going almost as crazy as I was – believe me that’s a strong statement. No, I didn’t take their photo. This ain’t that kind of blog and I’m no paparazzo... One dollar of every ticket sold on this tour goes to Partners in Health, a charitable organization providing health care to the poor. Seems like a good cause if you’re looking to donate... Various fans kept crashing the front section because security was kind of erratic (I think they rotated and some were more aggressive than others). As they were bumping into me, I very quickly decided I would not get annoyed. After all, what makes me better than them? I hadn’t paid more for my seats. I purchased my tickets right away and got lucky. But that was true of everyone seated on the floor. All three shows were sold out in minutes. Of course, I didn’t mind when security would periodically clear them out of there, but I was glad I had the right attitude. Also, they announced that taking photos was not allowed. So the ones you see here were done on the sly, when security wasn’t looking. I feel like I could have done better, but didn’t want to (a) get booted or (b) have my camera taken away. Here are some more:

4 comments:

TransformerGeek said...

I drove up from Omaha to see the Friday show. Absolutely stunning. Seeing the entire theater jump up and down in a pogo-like frenzy during "Rebellion" was one of those concertgoing experiences for the ages.

Anonymous said...

This is Lisa from LJ (you commented on my review). Anyway, great review, and great pictures (congrats on not getting caught, as that was a bit risky). I'm really short, but you can actually see my boyfriend Yancy's head in all of your shots, ;). He's the tall one w/ dark hair, and only one of his ears (his right one) is visible in your pictures. So yeah, that's where we were sitting, haha.

Anyway, your review was spot-on, although I look forward to actually seeing a show from further back because I think the sound would be better towards the middle of the floor. It was great being that close though. The audience sing-a-longs were great; I wish there had been more of it though; just more energy from the crowd in general would have been nice. We needed to be more united in song and fist-pumping. :)

Kyle said...

There was also a Caleb and Matthew Followill (Kings of Leon) sighting at the show. They went pretty much unrecognized by most of the crowd except as tight pants wearing, long hair sporting fellow AF fans.

PMaz said...

Good point on them being "a church". Only The Polyphonic Spree top them when it comes to rock music.