Photos By Armando Gallardo, Words By Brandon Wetherbee
Let’s begin with the positives.
Arcade Fire donated $1 of each ticket to the charity Partners In Health, an NGO that helps the health care system in Haiti. Kudos to Arcade Fire.
Dan Deacon was able to get a large crowd to high five. High fives are nice.
The 45-year-old white guy sitting in front of me was totally going to get laid. The 25-year-old white lady with him was totally cool with him fondling her ass during all the songs about the suburbs. Lots of white people were going to get laid after this show.
The Verizon Center allows concertgoers to exit the stadium and hang out in The Green Turtle with no hassle re-entry. $5.25 isn’t horrible for a mixed drink, especially when you consider you’re in Chinatown. Even the fans in the bar dressed as mimes weren’t that bad. Lots of people wore ‘fancy’ clothes but I only saw one set of mimes.
Merge Records made some money. That’s good. They’re a good label.
Nothing broke. Everyone appeared to be in fine health. The Verizon Center staff was pleasant.
That’s about it. Everything else was confusing.
Arcade Fire were on track to become the most important band of a generation. Arcade Fire has released their worst album and are on their biggest tour to date. There appears to be no one saying no. Not all ideas are good ideas. Most ideas are awful. Based on Sunday evening’s Verizon Center concert, it’s very likely no one in the band hears the word ‘no’ very often.
Arcade Fire began the show with 13 people playing on stage. 13 people playing instruments for no discernible reason. The band would occasionally consist of a mere 7 or 8 and it was impossible to tell the difference when they blossomed to 13. Why? Why have that many people in the band if there’s no difference in sound or feel or tone?
Every song sounded the same. Different notes were played, but the tone and feel and pace sounded alike. This is not a problem in their recorded catalog. Live, there was no subtlety, just the occasional steel drum flourish. Steel drums. Like in “Jane Says.” But that’s the only drum in “Jane Says.” Arcade Fire occasionally had two drummers behind standard kits and a steel drummer. Three. Why?
Arcade Fire swallowed every David Byrne and Bono pill but only got the horrible parts of Byrne and Bono (except the charity aspect, that’s great). Just because you can go big, you don’t need to go big. Just because you can have paper mache heads, you don’t need paper mache heads. Just because you can make a statement on gender rights, you don’t need to make a statement on gender rights. Why?
Arcade Fire mocked Robin Thicke for stealing from Marvin Gaye in their big head paper mache segment featuring ‘The Reflektors.’ Why?
Following the confusing ‘Reflektors’ segment the band covered Fugazi’s “Waiting Room” because they’re playing local covers in every city. Fugazi didn’t sell t-shirts and shows cost $5 and had the opposite of a dress code. Arcade Fire was selling $40 t-shirts, the show cost between $30.50 and $70.50 and a dress code was suggested. Why?
I saw Tori Amos on Saturday night. The pop veteran had a piano and an organ or electric piano at her disposal. On Saturday I thought the show was good but relatively safe. After the Arcade Fire show, I think the Tori Amos show was a master class in less is more. Let the songs stand for themselves. Hopefully Arcade Fire will go back to less is more. The band had multiple confetti and streamer moments. At least three songs included confetti and streamers. Why?
Arcade Fire is not a bad band. Their first three records are very good. But something happened. Something horrible and boring and lackluster seeped in and the band is now offering tickets on Groupon. That makes sense.