Photos by Finn Turnbull
Since their first album, Funeral, Arcade Fire has been a band on an upward trajectory. With a steady stream of culturally relevant albums, Win Butler and company looked to build on that even more with the newest record, Everything Now. Sadly though, this appears to be the first misstep for the major alternative indie band.
Tuesday night at the U.N.O. Lakefront Arena, the band did their best, but unfortunately the new songs just didn’t pull people in the way they have in the band’s past. Opener, Wolf Parade, did their best, and ultimately triumphed, but it was the headliners that left more to be desired. Instantly upon arriving, something felt off. Maybe the band would be able to capture what they hoped to in a live setting where they thrive (and still do), but with under half of the arena empty, it was a hard sell.
Old songs like “Ready to Go,” “Rebellion(Lies)”, and many others hit with the same potency as they have for years, but it was the new material that ultimately sank the show. The crowd seemed to anticipate the older tracks more. As far as the stage show went though, it was quite interesting and ultimately enjoyable. Playing in the round, like the band did tonight, requires a more full audience that AF got, but it wasn’t without their shining moments. “No Cars Go” was spectacular, and the lights and imagery were simply awesome. You also can’t argue with a band that can spend two hours bouncing around, which is always great. The transitions between songs new and old were great, but something was just off. This is supposed to be a huge band, yet they struggled to get three thousand to an eight thousand capacity arena. Maybe it was the initial ticket price, or that they’ve recently played NOLA within the last year, but it was all very complexing, and makes me wonder if it’s just that people aren’t super excited about the new material.
I’ve been a huge fan since their first record changed my life, and countless others lives, and while the band has taken a chance on pushing their sound further, this new Arcade Fire lacks the spirit and conviction of their earlier output. Overall, the show was enjoyable, and hopefully the band can pivot and reclaim their hold on dominant indie rock. They won’t with more material like Everything Now though.