Yes, it's another concert review. Even if you aren't a fan of indie rock like I am, you're going to want to read this anyway, because I make a non-music related point at the end.
Genuine and I went to Thanksgiving Point last night to take in the joint LCD Soundsystem/Arcade Fire concert. I've been excited about this ever since I read about it on Pitchfork, but, strangely, I didn't feel much one way or the other during the day. Listening to LCD Soundsystem over the previous week helped get me more familiar with the music, but I still felt somewhat removed from it. Even sitting in the amphitheater, I felt somewhat indifferent about the show.
That all changed in a hurry.
LCD Soundsystem took the stage to almost no fanfare. I don't think most people even realized they were on the stage until they started playing. Normally, the house lights dim before a band starts to play, but since we were outside, the only sign we had of their arrival was the opening notes of "Us v. Them" coming from the stage. All of the indifference and lethargy I had immediately disappeared. This was a band that put on an entertaining show. Front man James Murphy came out wearing what looked like 3-D glasses. He seemed to be having the time of his life playing for us. The energy was contagious - before long, we were moving and swaying about, too. "North American Scum" really got things moving; more than half the crowd seemed to have been there solely to hear that song. (Genuine got a huge kick out of the song, shouting "North America!" along with the chorus.) Their set ended after exactly one hour, and I felt completely fulfilled. I could have gone home perfectly happy after that one set (provided, of course, that I had only paid for one set).
It was already dark outside, so they couldn't darken the lights further. Instead, they raised them, shining the Neon Bible image some twenty times across the stage, creating a backdrop of what looked like red, glowing, skeletal spiders. All ten (ten!) members of the band walked out to the cacophonous opening sounds of "Black Mirror," dressed in various outfits of black. (Comment from Genuine: "They look Satanic.") They weren't quite what I was expecting; I wouldn't have been surprised to have seen an emaciated bat swoop down from the scaffolding during that first song. Lead singer Win Butler was wearing a black shirt with glow-in-the-dark strips on it, so you could almost see him when the lights fell between songs. I was worried it was going to be a dark show, but things lightened up almost immediately with "Neighborhood #2 (Laika)." This was a band with energy. Seeing ten people on the stage all moving around crazily was enough to set the crowd moving. I was dancing more than I had at any other concert. (After the show ended, I noticed that I was nearly two inches lower than at the start, due to my stomping and dancing. This was a triumph, in my mind.) Not only were the band full of energy, but they let it go in all sorts of creative ways. In addition to the main drummer in the back, two band members had drumsticks in the front and were hitting anything they could find. One of them was hitting motorcycle helmets mounted on poles; another was climbing on the scaffolding and hitting random poles and pipes. It was a sight to see. Every one of them was having a blast. We were, too. It seemed to be a poignant show for Butler, who said he spent time in the Wasatch mountains as a child fishing with his grandfather. In his memory, he played "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" for us, which made the song even more incredible. (I've referenced the song twice before on this blog, once at the end of the fall 2006 semester, and once in the blog's tagline, "from my window to yours.") Their set lasted nearly two hours, but I would have stayed for twice that listening to them play. It was easily the best concert I've ever been to, and I'm including that Joanna Newsom concert from last November.
But now, the reason those of you who haven't even heard of Arcade Fire are still reading this. More than any other concert I've been to, I felt completely at home here. People of all shapes, sizes, and appearances were at this concert, and I felt that we all had a connection. It was cold outside, so many people brought blankets. When Arcade Fire took the stage, hundreds of people ran up to be closer to them, leaving their blankets behind. No one took anything. No one even thought about it. For a couple of hours, we were all brothers and sisters, just there to enjoy some good music. I could feel it the whole time, but perhaps not better than during "Intervention," when I heard a thousand people shout out simultaneously, "Who's going to reset the bone?"
It was the closest to Zion I'd ever been, the occasional puff of cigarette smoke blowing past my face notwithstanding.