Back in August, when Arcade Fire’s third album The Suburbs debuted at #1 on the billboard albums chart and sky rocketed them, once again, into a firm position as one of the world’s biggest bands, it signified a lot and not that much all at once… Most indie music fans have been seeing this for sometime now, what with Vampire Weekend’s Contra also going #1 earlier this year; there’s a laundry list of other lesser examples too. It’s clear that indie music’s appeal is stepping into the mainstream conscious for better or worse, but for Arcade Fire specifically, this isn’t really that new.
In 2007, when Neon Bible was released, it hit all sorts of #1 marks. Everyone was happy that their homies from the north were getting a much deserved pat on the back, and because the album held up to the hype, the lauding was celebrated. What it also did though, as far as live performance goes, was sky-rocket them out of the popularity range where a venue like First Ave would be conceivable and into the perilous territory of coliseums and event centers. 2007 saw Arcade Fire grace Roy Wilkins Auditorium with a visit and so it was only suitable that this time around they’d hit the Roy again.
And so they did, with strong openers Calexico in tow, and it was, well it was what it was. When you’re at Roy Wilkins, you can’t shake that feeling that you’re at a WWF arena show…The big cold cement, the basketball gym rafters, the loping lazy way the acoustics bring the sound out to you(not to mention that terrible one beer per person rule.) There’s something to love and hate about it all, about this shabby crumbling example of the old arena. In a way it’s maybe preferable to Excel or Target purely because it just seems a bit more rock and roll, but it’s definitely not optimal, and for most bands, it can spell disaster. The Roy can swallow you up if your sound isn’t big enough or if one element isn’t right or if it’s too big and it’s bouncing off the walls. Hell, it can swallow you up if it’s just that kind of night.. I saw it happen to Beck first hand two years ago! BECK!
Luckily though, Arcade Fire’s sound is big enough, and for the most part it can shake all that other stuff off. Wednesday night they did the best with what they were given and the crowd saw a show where the acoustics were better than one could have hoped and the band charged and ready for limelight.
Opening up-appropriately enough-with Suburbs‘ “Ready To Start,” Arcade Fire were crowd pleasers in epic fashion. They were on and in sync with the peoples desire, peppering in crowd favorites like “Neighborhood #2″ and “Rebellion” from Funeral as well as “Keep The Car Running” off of Neon Bible. It was a set weighted heavily with tracks from the new album, but that’s what this tour is for. Arcade Fire once again effortlessly convinced everybody why they are so popular…It’s all that energy paired with all that eloquence! And two drummers! And that one multi-instrumentalist/keyboard guy running around banging on everything to the beat! And everyone constantly changing up instruments! It’s all just so cinematic!
It was good, it was pretty damn good, but it could have been so much better in another setting…like a cave, or on top of a hill, or in the center of a hall of mirrors, or center stage in a giant vaudeville circus tent…Minneapolis needs to build one of these things to accommodate the masses…Or just an amphitheatre outdoors, with heated seats…Rip down the Doubletree…No one cares about that place…