Montreal-based band's performance at Berkeley's Greek Theater.
November 30, 2010 5:53 PM
The Greek Theater in Berkeley is overflowing with eager fans waiting for their beloved band to appear on stage. Last minute arrivals squeeze onto the main floor hoping to get as close as possible and wishing to catch a splintered drumstick or a used guitar pick thrown into the crowd at the end of the night. Suddenly, the lights go out. A crescendo of cheers and applause rise into the clear, star-filled sky. The seven members of Arcade Fire walk out, silhouetted against the bright, white stage lights at their backs. With a sudden burst of color and sound, the theater is lit up with flashing lights as the band opens with, "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)," off their Grammy-nominated album Funeral.
Hailing from Montreal, Arcade Fire was formed by husband and wife Win Butler and Régine Chassagne. Borrowing their name from a story Butler was told as a child about a fire in an arcade, group members have sifted in and out of the lineup over the years. The current musicians who make up this eclectic band are Butler, Chassagne, Butler's younger brother Will, Richard Reed Parry, Tim Kingsbury, Sarah Neufeld, and Jeremy Gara. In 2001, the band began its slow but steady ascent into stardom by performing the majority of their shows in art galleries and lofts throughout Canada. Releasing their first EP in 2002, the seven-person band has since recorded three critically acclaimed records.
The band finishes their opener as lead singer Butler leaps onto a large speaker lining the front of the stage and shouts, "Berkeley! How are y'all doing?" Immediately, white strobe lights illuminate the night, sending the crowd into an enthusiastic frenzy. To the screams, shouts, and whistles of the audience, the band launches into their hit "Keep the Car Running," off their debut album Neon Bible. The fast guitar riffs and swift drum beats set the audience into a flurried motion.
Arcade Fire energetically plays through their set list, occasionally slowing things down with softer songs like "Haiti" and "Crown of Love." Each member plays multiple instruments used in their music. While on stage, the musicians can be seen dancing from one instrument to another, taking turns while adding an extra layer of fun to their show.
Known for his wild on-stage antics, Will Butler beats furiously at a snare drum strapped around his neck. Running, leaping, and spinning, he makes his way to one of the stage's metal support beams. Lifting his arms triumphantly in the air in salute to the fans, he suddenly begins to scale the beam. Stopping approximately thirty-five feet up in the air, he bangs the gleaming silver drum with one drumstick, matching the pace and rhythm of "Rebellion (Lies)," the band's most popular single, also off of Funeral.
The October 3 show in Berkeley was one stop on the band's current tour, promoting their newest album The Suburbs, released in August. Throughout the nearly two-hour set, airy and sometimes dream-like sounds mixed with the powerfully fast and energetic ones. In their eight years of life, Arcade Fire has reached ultimate indie-rock fame through their eclectic musical style.
The band ends with their signature closing number and most famous song, "Wake Up." The song gained notoriety when it was used as the theme for the 2009 movie Where the Wild Things Are. The chilly night air is no match for the warmth emanating between the band and their fans. As the show comes to an end, the "whoa-ohs" of the crowd drift toward the stars as they sing along.
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