Today @ Jazz Fest: Arcade Fire

Carefully paced and moderately majestic

Today, the surreal becomes a reality as Arcade Fire arrives at Jazz Fest for a headlining set at 5:25. Back in February, Arcade Fire was awarded the cherished Album of the Year Grammy for their 3rd LP, The Suburbs, easily the Canadian band’s most accessible effort to date. To generalize, the casual music listener is understandably unaware of Arcade Fire, and if you don’t listen to satellite radio, pour through music magazines or go blogosphere-mining on a regular basis, you could have possibly missed this band until now.

One Thirty BPM

Ever since 2004′s ambitious debut Funeral, Arcade Fire has been organically establishing a reputation for themselves similar to the one Radiohead carries as a band that reinvents the wheel every time they go into the studio to make a record. If you need affirmation of such a lofty comparison, check out AF’s three records Funeral (2004), Neon Bible (2007 – personal favorite) and The Suburbs (2010), and try to appreciate how each etches out a mini-genre within itself, creating something never pressed to vinyl, put down on analog tape or downloaded onto a studio hard drive. Hugely successful, world wary (“Businessmen, they drink my blood/Like the kids in art school said they would”) without being overly 90′s-jaded and whiny, Arcade Fire are a once-in-a-generation type band. The songs are cerebral yet inclusive of the everyman, brooding and intense, and undoubtedly tailor-made for the humungous festival stages that can swallow bands wielding smaller sounds and fewer eccentricities.

Although the arena rock largesse and intensity of artists like U2 and Bruce Springsteen are often mentioned in concert with a listening of the radio-friendly “Keep The Car Running” (a song The Boss himself has covered) or the dramatic “Wake Up”, such comparisons miss the mark when one reads between the lines and delves deeper into the catalogue. From Funeral to Suburbs, the songs have become less go-for-broke-intense and more nostalgic, sentimental and mature, yet still maintain a wonderful and cathartic power. Certainly the lyrical transformation is to be expected of a band no longer singing for their supper. After three astonishing albums (although The Suburbs falls slightly short of the majesty of the first two), it seems like this band will be the creative, artsy kids at such events as the Grammys, Saturday Night Live and major festivals worldwide for as long as they wish (although lead singer Win Butler mentioned in an interview last year that he can’t picture himself doing this in ten years).

Plus, there is a lot to like about these guys as people. The band donated $1 million to Haiti relief after last year’s devastating earthquake.

One thing is certain about May 6th at Jazz Fest:
Although, it’s seen just about everything, in 42 years, the Fair Grounds hasn’t played host to any group quite like Arcade Fire.

Essential Tracks: Wake Up, Neighborhood #3 (Power Out), Keep The Car Running, No Cars Go, Ocean of Noise, My Body Is A Cage, Suburban War, and Ready To Start

Wake Up

Keep The Car Running, Live at Madison Square Garden

Neighborhood #3 (Power Out) – Live

“an interesting instrumentation and an interesting configuration”

Ocean of Noise (Music Video)

Ready To Start

My Body Is A Cage

May 6, 2011 |  by  |  Jazz Fest
About the author

Wesley grew up in coastal Georgia and is a former resident of The Music City and The Big Easy where he helped get LMB NOLA off-the-ground after launching in January 2011. Over the past few years, he has also contributed steadily to JamBase and Relix Magazine. Recently, Hodges moved on to L.A. where Abita Beer is hard to find, costs about $6 if located and impromptu parading in the streets will most likely get you arrested on the spot.

 
  • MJ

    Wes, stay out the christmas tree lounge brotha.

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