Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Arcade Fire: Are They The New U2?
It took me a while to discover Arcade Fire. They seemed kind of pretentious, and way overblown. I wondered why their live performances required nearly a dozen people. I wondered why so many people loved them (they've played high profile gigs at Coachella and Lollapolooza, not to mention TV appearances on Letterman, SNL, and The Daily Show).
So, I ignored them.
But then, by chance, I heard "Ready To Start" off their just-released third CD, "Suburbs." It immediately hooked me. I listened to their brand new CD,"Suburbs." I was blown away. I watched some YouTube performances. Each live performance showed a young band singing and playing as if their lives depended on it. They clearly made a conscious decision to always perform with intensity and focus, like a "War"-era U2. There aren't many rock acts that approach their professions with this sort of work ethic. I've seen a lot of sloppy shows by bands with huge names. When you watch Arcade Fire perform, you realize they're simply head and shoulders above their peers. Their only comparisons are big names, like Springsteen, Bowie, Radiohead, The Cure, and yes, U2.
Some more things to like:
• The band is from Montreal, probably my favorite city in the world.
• As a Montreal band, they have a unique, Francophilian approach to art (i.e., they're not afraid of sentimentalism that teeters on the gauche). This is a good thing.
• Though Montrealers, the lead singer and his multi-instrumentalist brother are former Mormon kids from a rich suburb of Houston.
• These brothers, Win and Will, went to elite schools like Philip Exeter Academy, Northwestern, Sarah Lawrence College, and MacGill University, but managed to escape the establishment.
• Win is married to a woman named Reginé, who came to Montreal from Haiti. She is also in the band.
• Reginé wears stylish dresses and has a full head of dark brown, naturally curly hair.
• Reginé plays drums, keyboards and the hurdy-gurdy (pure Montreal).
• Win is vaguely Nordic, and sort of suggests a younger Christopher Walken.
• Win sounds a LOT like Bruce Springsteen or John Cafferty.
• Dave Grohl of Nirvana and Foo Fighters once said he listens to "Keep The Car Running" the first thing when he wakes up in the morning.
Enough gushing. Check them out, they're big, epic and passionate, sinister and sullen.