Sunday, January 16, 2005

The Arcade Fire Great American Music Hall 01/13/05

The only plausible answer I can come up with is luck. The question being, of course, "How did you score tickets, at face value, for the Arcade Fire show at the Great American Music Hall?" Sold out for a month, the three shows at the Great American were The. Hot. Ticket. in the greater SF Bay Area. Luckily, I got a good friend named Mark. Mark happened upon a co-worker who was (regretfully) looking to unload four tickets. Lucky time, lucky place. Lucky me.

Opening for Arcade Fire were two "bands." Bands being a loose term in that each "band" consisted of one guy with an instrument. The first, Tycho B, or Tycho D, or Tyco Truck - I don’t know - was pretty mediocre. Standard singer/songwriter fare, with a below average voice and slightly above average guitar skills. Nothing more need be said.

Next up was FInal Fantasy - a young man by the name of Owen who played violin and sang. It was...really...great. Really. Aside from the unfortunate video game evoking name, Final Fantasy was a lot of fun. Owen's (I forget his last name) voice is obviously classically trained, as is his violining. (Violining?) He ran his violin through a pedal that allowed him to loop back what he had played. Then he played over that and created some really beautiful music.

Then the headline band lull. Not bad - 15, maybe 20 minutes.

And then: The Arcade Fire.

I feel like such a poseur, or a bandwagon jumper. Of course I heard about The Arcade Fire through Pitchfork, and of course I bought the album because they told me to. But - honest! - I like ‘em cause they’re good. The next bit I’m gonna say (trust me!) is from my own, lucid, original thought, not Pitchfork manipulating the machinations of my mind: The Arcade Fire is the best band I’ve ever seen live. They opened with start/stop strums of “Wake Up” - the most incendiary track on Funeral. And it only got better from there. They played with spirit, reminding the crowd that, even though the Great American is filled with stunning gold moulding, we weren’t in a museum. Members of the band ran into each other, played drums on each other’s heads, and just all-around wrecked shop. At one point a Latvian flag (!) made its way on stage. What is this? They closed the main set with Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels). The band left the stage and about a dozen members of the Great American staff dispersed flashlights (once again - !) throughout the crowd. Of course, The Arcade Fire came back and played Une Annee Sans Lumiere. Speak French? Know Latin? If so, you get the joke. They ended with In the Backseat - one of the more remarkable songs about death in the last few years. If you get the chance, see this band. Regardless of the cost, it will be worth it.


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