Arcade Fire shines a light on Brooklyn at Barclays

What are we but reflections of ourselves, what others see us as, and what we try to portray ourselves as, often in the form of a mask or a metaphysical disguise? Arcade Fire has decided to tackle this question on their latest album and have pulled it off in a expansive way that only they could do. They started off back in 2001 as a rather odd Canadian import from the sprawling metropolis of Montreal, centering on the husband and wife team of Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, they had a decidedly northern exposure artsy baroque-esque folk sensibility with other numerous alternative stylings, often augmented with extensive arrangements and a grand array of instruments and players. However, by the time they made a surprising smash with their debut full-length album Funeral in 2004, they had lost a driving founding collaborator Josh Deu. Nonetheless, the band continued to both expand their line-up and their sound as well as climb up the ladder of success with each successive album, and, despite having that distinctively alien Canadian experimental sound, they have experienced little of the success-roadblocks that many of their fellow countrymen have experienced in the past. Their last couple albums have acquired a special amount of intense attention and shown a serious evolution. With their newest offering Refelctor, they have come of age with an extremely catchy, almost disco-ish, dance beat that carries throughout much of it, which is not to surprising considering LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy produced it. Since it’s release late last year, the band has been busy doing the soundtrack to Spike Jonze’s Her and appearing on a number of compilations including an impressive Peter Gabriel tribute. Still, this is the big support tour everyone was hoping on, and they hit NYC hard with a three-night stand at the massive new indoor arena in downtown Brooklyn called Barclays Center for what was sure to be a definitive moment in their career, so much so that they even requested that people get dressed up for the occasion, which to many meant elaborately wild costumes. I was lucky enough to get press for the second, or the middle, Saturday night show, which is the first time since I saw them play since they killed it at the ridiculously tiny Mercury Lounge in 2003 for the CMJ music fest, and I was ready to be blown away.

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Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.
Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.
—  Everything Is Waiting For You by David Whyte
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