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Rock Redemption: Arcade Fire more than proves their worth at Festival Pier

Arcade Fire | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Did Arcade Fire have something to prove last night? Opening their Festival Pier set with the galvanizing, rafter-raising, indisputable biggest anthem of their nearly two-decade career — the life-affirming “Wake Up” from their debut Funeral, which is as powerful today as it was upon its 2004 release — seemed to indicate such. Following it up with two more songs from that same album — the askew, nervy “Neighborhood #2 (Laika),” and the indie-dance groove of “Rebellion (Lies)” — felt even more like a bit of a bid for redemption. Hey, remember our album that everybody loved? The one with all these amazing songs you know by heart?

This might have been a somewhat necessary move, following the not-terrific 2017 that Arcade Fire had. Their fifth LP, Everything Now — admittedly not their strongest work, but a nevertheless solid collection of emotive postmodern rock with more than its share of pure bangers — was universally shat upon by the groupthink-minded indie press, which seemingly had been waiting for an opportunity to pounce on their onetime darlings and tear them a new one. Sure, the album was annoyingly marketed; in a method acting extension of its late-capitilasm / excessive-connectivity critique, Everything Now embodied the very things it was taking down in its lyrics and its packaging and its kitschy profusion of branding. But still, fidget spinners? The subsequently ambitious Infinite Content tour had them playing huge rooms to moderate crowds; which, the scale of the stage show couldn’t possibly take place anywhere but an arena, and the Wells Fargo Center stop was as good a gig as I’ve ever seen them play. Nevertheless, the Stereogums of the world jumped at the opportunity for some “Arcade Fire playing to half-empty venues” clickbait.

Which brings them to last night: a packed venue that’s more appropriate for the scale of the band’s Philly fan base (probably as many people or slightly more turned out to Festival Pier as did at Wells Fargo), a relatively stripped down stage show (short of a disco ball and two angled LEDs flashing video throughout the night, the overly busy boxing ring motif of last fall was discarded) and a humbled but nonetheless bigger-than-life band ready to kick some ass. And for whatever my cynicism was at their frontloading the set with three songs from one of their most iconic releases (plus two more from Funeral followed as the night progressed), by the time Win Butler and Régine Chassagne were trading vocals on “Rebellion” and Will Butler was leaping off the stage, pressing against the barricade, pummeling a poor rack tom in the faces of elated fans in the front row, I too was singing along with everybody else while snapping photos of the spectacle.   Continue reading →

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Arcade Fire celebrates the audacity of love in the animated new music video for “Chemistry”

Arcade Fire’s “Chemistry” video | still from video

Watching Arcade Fire’s music video for “Chemistry” feels like indulging in Saturday morning cartoons over a bowl of sugary cereal— to enjoy it, you have to revert back to an adolescent mindset. Directed by Ray Tintori and animated by Starburns Industries (the people behind Rick And Morty), this is a vibrant and endearing endeavor.

The story follows a typical underdog-gets-the-girl plotline (literally). Continue reading →

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Watch Arcade Fire and Chrissie Hynde cover The Pretenders in London, plus so many more covers

Arcade Fire | photo by Mary Ellen Matthews | courtesy of the artist
Arcade Fire | photo by Mary Ellen Matthews | courtesy of the artist

Arcade Fire seem to be on tour constantly as of late. The Canadian rockers can currently be found across the pond in Europe, where they just played their second night out of three in London. Early on in night one, Arcade Fire brought out Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders to cover “Don’t Get Me Wrong.” For their final song, the band’s set-closing staple “Wake Up,” Hynde rejoined the band on stage along with openers Preservation Hall Jazz Band and The National’s Bryce Dessner. Continue reading →

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Watch Arcade Fire perform “Creature Comfort” and “Put Your Money On Me” on SNL

Arcade Fire on SNL | still from video

Arcade Fire returned to Saturday Night Live this past weekend. The show marked the band’s fifth performance on SNL, their first appearance dating back to 2007. Appearing on the night, which also saw the return of Bill Hader (along with one of his most beloved characters, Stefan), the band performed two cuts off their 2017 record Everything Now.

First up, the Canadian rockers performed “Creature Comfort,” all while decked out in metallic gold suits. Quite a look. With strobes by the second and smoke shrouding the stage, the band didn’t water down their typical touring live show for the late night appearance. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: Arcade Fire brings Everything Now Continued tour to Festival Pier

Arcade Fire | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

Beloved indie rockers Arcade Fire just announced a run of new concert dates for the summer, and one takes place in Philly on July 19th at Festival Pier. “The Everything Now Continued” tour continues to showcase their fifth album Everything Now — a thought provoking collection of tracks that floats on a sea of ideas about our modern media crazed society.

The last time Arcade Fire was in Philly, they gave us one hell of a performance at the Wells Fargo Center on their Infinite Content tour. The show was “a true, rare rock ‘n” roll thrill” with an amazing setlist and some great stage presences. Check out the Key’s review coverage here. Continue reading →

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In a sea of infinite content, Arcade Fire holds its own at Wells Fargo Center

Arcade Fire | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

I first got over Arcade Fire more than a decade ago. I guess you could say we peaked early. I was head over heels the first time I saw them, yelping and jumping, clattering countless tom-toms and swapping instruments with abandon. They were crammed onto the stage of a tiny club in Carrboro, NC, where I happened to be passing through on the night before Merge Records’ 15th anniversary festival. (I’d mostly stopped in to check out another new signee to the label, Lou Barlow. According to my blog, the night also included Win and Regine doing an impromptu rendition of The Magnetic Fields’ “Born On A Train,” as part of “Merge karaoke.”)

That show was a true, rare rock’n’roll thrill, one which even the mighty Funeral, when it finally arrived, couldn’t quite recapture (but I loved it anyway), and which had already begun to fade when I saw them again, in the First Unitarian basement, that fall. (It’s slightly hard to imagine, but I was significantly turned off by their lackluster cover of my all-time favorite song, Talking Heads’ “This Must Be The Place.”) That was the last time I saw them play live – that is, until this Sunday night, when they gave a decidedly (and yet, not entirely) different, undeniably thrilling performance at Wells Fargo Center as part of their “Infinite Content” tour. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Arcade Fire at Wells Fargo Center, Willie Nelson at BB&T Pavilion, Annachristie Sapphire at Bourbon and Branch

Arcade Fire | Photo by Michelle Montgomery | www.michellemontgomeryphotography.com

Following the release of Arcade Fire‘s highly anticipated new album Everything Now, the widely-loved indie-rockers-turned-mega-superstars return to play the Wells Fargo Center. Arcade Fire last played the Wells Fargo a little over three years ago — it was their first arena show in Philly and the band’s ambition has only grown since. Read The Key’s review of that show here, arrive early to see XPN Fest alums Preservation Hall Jazz Band open tonight’s show, and get ready for what’s sure to be a memorable experience. Continue reading →

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Listen to alternate versions of Arcade Fire / Mavis Staples collab “I Give You Power,” benefitting the ACLU

arcade fire
Arcade Fire | Photo by Michelle Montgomery | www.michellemontgomeryphotography.com

Following up on last week’s “I Give You Power” collaboration with Mavis Staples, Arcade Fire have shared two new versions of the single – a full instrumental cut and a choppier “Broken Speaker” remix. The song (and the “alternative songs”) marks the Canadian outfit’s first new material since 2013’s Reflektor and benefits the American Civil Liberties Union.

Continue reading →

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Arcade Fire’s new concert DVD will remind you what an incredible live band Arcade Fire is

Arcade Fire | Photo by Michelle Montgomery | www.michellemontgomeryphotography.com
Arcade Fire | Photo by Michelle Montgomery | www.michellemontgomeryphotography.com

When an artist’s last record was a widely acclaimed magnum opus double LP, it’s understandable that they’d want to take a while to make sure its successor is as amazing as possible. So even though it seems like forever away when Win Butler is telling Pitchfork that the next Arcade Fire record will be out in spring 2018, maybe — you know, that could be kind of a good thing.

In the meanwhile, the band has been giving us some very early appetizers to dig into — the fired-up industrial funk of “I Give You Power,” co-starring Mavis Staples, hit our earbuds last week. And today, we’ve got a preview of the band’s new concert DVD, The Reflektor Tapes / Live at Earls Court, out this Friday. Continue reading →