Here Comes The Night Time: A Critical Reflection on (the) Arcade Fire


I refreshed and refreshed and refreshed all the minutes up until noon when tickets for the Reflektors Halloween Show at the Palladium would go on sale. Noon. Refresh. Click. Purchase. Wait. Busy. Refresh. Wait. Busy. Refresh. Wait. No more available.  

This could easily sound like a bitter rant about my lack of tickets or plans for Halloween but my inability to get these tickets – and my false sense of the right to have them – speaks to an Arcade Fire that didn’t exist until a few months ago, nay, until the album leaked and millions listened to it and remembered that hey:  Arcade Fire is fucking great.

I work at a radio station and am surrounded by a constant influx of new music and a relatively small group of judgmental soon-to-be music bloggers, promoters, managers and mechanical engineers.  I listen to new music, I lackadaisically seek out esoteric new music, and I raise my eyebrows and shrug when my consistent favorites – the ones that harp on some deep emotional whatever that comes either from nostalgia or stubbornness – receive condescension for their mainstream positioning.

The Reflektors single – James Murphy buzz buzz – people are interested. The video is interactive – people are talking about it. Is that David Bowie you hear?  We’ve now successfully tapped into a trifecta. The album will speak for itself, as have their previous songs that crept up and exploded with fervor because Arcade Fire is one of the greatest Rock Bands out there today doing their thing – consistently but with growth.  

Everyone keeps throwing around comparisons to U2. Let me be clear – I hate U2. I never liked U2, when they performed at the Super Bowl and I was in 4th grade I did not like U2 or Bono’s jacket with an American flag sewn inside. The comparison that makes me queasy stems from an overhaul of their public imaging and a violent thrust (albeit rather subversive) into the public and popular domain. Arcade Fire is peaking with their subtle reimagining – and after peaks come falls – and if Win Butler is anything like Bono (sub Haiti for whatever Bono “aids”), this will be it.

Perhaps this is just the natural progression of things and I am finally old enough to be crotchety and annoyed by the band I loved (sorry, Love) going mainstream. I don’t know how or why I listened to Funeral in 2004 – and that album was immensely popular. Arcade Fire is not some indie band coming out of the depths of some grimy underground bar venue, these musicians got together and had a good thing going and made a great thing happen – immediately.

So why am I so angry? No one could ever really deny Arcade Fire’s talent and know-how and of course, the kinetic energy of their live performances.


 CMJ Poster

CMJ Poster

Enter: CMJ 2013. CMJ this past October was really the jumping-off board for the album that would be released two weeks later. Small posters went up around Brooklyn advertising a secret costume party and twitter was immediately up in arms – tweets changing from “Top Bands to See at CMJ” to “ARCADE FIRE WHERE? HELP? BROOKLYN? DROOL.”  Every music person ever to exist was in New York that weekend, bands, blog writers from Pitchfork and independent wordpresses, journalists, managers, producers, music aficionados, college students and little old me – were there that weekend and all of their attention was on where and when the Arcade Fire show would be and how they could get a ticket.  The show became the epicenter of the Music Marathon – making it somewhat relevant again but also destroying everything it stands for – and the echoes of R.I.P CMJ are still waving across the internet. How easily it was hi jacked by the Arcade Fire PR team exemplifies how corporate CMJ has become - but that’s another rant.  If taking advantage of the press and people wasn’t enough,  the shows were performance PR pieces for those connected or wealthy enough to get in.  There was no following of clues for die-hard fans, just connections, inside information and money.

All the members of AF are great musicians, and together they make a great band, but I’m not quite sure they, or their PR team, know exactly what kind of band they are. Their game plan thus far has exploited the Indie sentiment. And they are taking this strategy to every major city, causing a ruckus and depressing me with secret shows and impossible to buy tickets. I love you Arcade Fire, but you are seriously bringing me down - and I think you should look into this reflection you keep singing about.


Update 11/9/13 : It has been brought to my attention that the the bassist of U2 goes by the name of "the Edge."  


 - Anya Lehr - GM