Arcade Fire, Hidden Cameras / Bowery Ballroom / Nov. 11, 2004
The Arcade Fire are the greatest band of all time. My heart stops when I hear their music. Seriously, I have to be rushed to the emergency room every time I play their CD, because my aorta collapses in on itself from the sheer beauty of “Wake Up.” But I can’t stop listening to them, even though my doctor and my parents and my friends keep begging me. I’d rather die than live without the Arcade Fire.
Ok, that’s a load of bull crap. But come on, from the way people have been shitting themselves over this group lately, am I really that far off? I have honestly never seen the Bowery more crowded than it was last night, nor have I ever seen that many music writers at a show together. I have also never seen a crowd act less excited to watch a performance by a band they supposedly love. The main guy (wearing a suit with the image of a skeleton silkscreened on his back) kept commenting on how quiet everybody was in between songs, and thanked us for being polite at the end. Sure, this is NYC, and everybody’s too cool for school, but holy crap, does the Arcade Fire not have any real fans or something? Songs like “Wake Up” and “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)” deserve jumping, dancing, shouting, stripping, making out, not toe-tapping and head-nodding. Then again, I spent the entirety of their set shoved in a corner in between a stairway, a trash can and some Hidden Cameras, so I must admit my viewpoint was a bit obscured. Maybe people were going mad crazy in the balcony. I hear David Bowie was there, but I only spotted David Byrne. (I watched for his reaction when Arcade Fire covered “This Must Be The Place.” There was none.)
All kidding aside, I really do like the Arcade Fire. They remind me of Rainer Maria, in that they are totally emo but nobody wants to admit it, and they are anchored by a strong woman. I’m always pleasantly surprised when I find out that the Token Pretty Girl in a band isn’t just a token singer or keyboardist. This woman played everything—drums, accordion, xylophone, banging on stuff—all while wearing red elbow-length gloves and this weird seatbelt-like strap thing around her chest. Pretty much everybody in the band switched instruments a lot, and there was a playful let’s-put-on-a-show vibe to the whole affair. They performed with the energy of a knuckleheaded pop-punk band, which only made their music more heartwrenching.
When this show was first announced a month or so ago, I was excited because I thought the Hidden Cameras were headlining. After their short, disappointing CMJ set (see Oct. 15th entry), I wanted more sweet, sweet gay folk church music! And maybe the Hidden Cameras were originally supposed to headline, before the Arcade Fire blew up, I don’t know. Fortunately, their set lasted for about an hour, and included more from their first album, which is what I wanted to hear. They also brought out their trademark dancers in ski masks, who stripped down to their underwear and gyrated through the end of the set. During “Golden Streams,” they tossed yellow crepe paper from the balcony (huh huh, get it?) Alas, the crowd was not into it at all. They came to that show for one purpose: being able to impress their friends by saying they saw the Arcade Fire. And no silly opening act was going to get in their way.