Arcade Fire | Chicago Theater, 5/19/07

Arcade Fire @ Chicago Theater

Saturday night was the second night of three at the Chicago Theater for THE Canadian band that’s got everyone in the world excited about music again (no…not that Canadian band). I’m talking about the Arcade Fire, the now 10-piece band led by Win Butler and Regine Chassange.

It was hard for me to come around to the Arcade Fire’s music, largely due to the fact that I thought I wasn’t really into their “style” musically. There was way too much hype surrounding this band and I became deaf from it — I just couldn’t hear what everyone else was “hearing” when they listened to this band and proclaimed them the best band in the world.

Now that I’ve seen them live, I think I can better understand the power and hype that came from their 2004 debut and 2005 breakout following their release of Funeral.


Saturday night’s show was very impressive to me in a few ways. First and foremost, the Chicago Theater is impressive itself from front to back, including the famous Chicago marquee that used to be the opener to Perfect Strangers. We arrived at the show kind of late so we missed the opener, but we were immediately greeted with the sounds signaling the end of intermission upon our arrival. That was a nice treat. Other than that, I guess I was just easily impressed by the fact that I’ve never been there before and it was nice to finally see a show there.

Once we got to our seats, we took in the sights on the stage. The band is currently touring with a stage setup with video projectors and screens strewn about; clips of the band playing live, odd and old “artsy” film clips, and of course, neon bibles get projected at different times during the set, producing a very haunting visual experience at times. Very cool.

Arcade Fire @ Chicago Theater

The band came out and proceeded to blow everyone away right off the bat instead of some of their “entering as the audience” tricks that they’ve done at a few of their shows recently (wherein the band enters through the floor seats while playing, for example, one of the crowd favorites, “Wake Up”). They came out to a standing ovation and played a rousing version of “Keep the Car Running” off Neon Bible, and the crowd continued to stand the whole night.

The early standout moment for me was “Haiti,” a song that immediately got stuck deep inside my head. The power of the anthem just stuck to me. I haven’t been able to get it out of my head ever since…

Mid-song, I finally got a piece of what Arcade Fire seems to do to people when they see them live — they infect them.

Call it the fact that you’re in a room with 3,000 other like-minded individuals. Call it the fact that the band encourages you to sing along with their religiously twinged anthems (leading by example there, especially considering that nearly every band member belts out their own vocals at one point or another during the show). Call it the fact that you can’t read a music blog these days without some friggin’ mention of the band, their live show, their mp3’s, their health, etc. Call it whatever you want, but you cannot deny that their music/hype/live-show is exciting, exhilarating, downright infectious, and fun — especially after you let yourself experience it directly.

The band let the setlist for the rest of the night switch back and forth between songs off Funeral and Neon Bible, which I was rather grateful for considering I’m newer to their catalog. A few other standout moments of the night include “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)” and “Intervention,” including the first encore version of “Neighborhood #2 (Laika).” The energy on that last one was through the roof.

The jamband fan in me left the show saying, “nothing impressive about the stage setup, energy, or power of this live band,” but only because I feel that I’ve seen this before. Hell, I’ve seen Umphrey’s McGee over twenty times and like ’em or not, those boys have some serious energy and power. Night after night.

The general music fan in me greatly appreciated the fact that their music has been haunting my brain ever since I left the theater. Their power to infect has left me with more of a memory than anything else, except maybe for the fact that Regine is fun to watch and I thoroughly enjoyed her Bjork-like presence as she bounced around the stage. That was a good memory, also…

Given my split personality and the fact that I couldn’t really tap into what I wanted to say about this show, I guess the real takeaway is — that was an awesome show. ‘Nuff said.

BUY: Arcade Fire – Funeral
BUY: Arcade Fire – Neon Bible