Just typing out that title, “Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsystem” makes me giggle… I would say that I have no words to express what a momentous concert it was, but that is untrue.
After much shuffling of rides, I rode to the Starlight Theatre out in KC with my friend and fellow Music Committee member, Doug. We left Mizzou around 4:30, and after a quick detour into Kansas on our way to the show, got to the venue just before 7. Unfortunately, unlike some of my fan-boy friends, we were not among the first however-many to arrive and get these orange bracelets that allowed you to go down to the front.
(I should also note, for the uninitiated, that the Starlight Theatre is an outdoor theatre. Maybe Houston gives it away too easily by calling our outdoor theaters things like “The Miller Outdoor Theatre,” but I had no clue that I was gonna be outdoors in the Missouri chill for this one, which would be my only minor complaint… and even still, I choose to blame the weather.. stupid Missouri.)
We hit up ye olde merch table, bought some tasty $4 water, and assumed our position in the orchestra section.
LCD Soundsystem was the opening act, which really just seems so strange that THE LCD Soundsystem was opening for someone… but it was incredible nonetheless. They (James Murphy plus his touring band of Hot Chip guitarist Al Doyle, drummer Pat Mahoney, bassist Phil Skarich, and keyboardist Nancy Whang) started the set with “Us v. Them” off of LCD Soundsystem’s latest album, Sound of Silver. It’s a good, solid jam, but I was more excited when he followed it with the party staple of ’05 “Daft Punk is Playing at My House” off of the 2005 self-titled album. Continuing, they played “North American Scum,” the absolutely phenomenal “All My Friends,” “Someone Great,” and “New York, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down.”
The energy in the crowd, most of them undoubtedly there for Arcade Fire, was pretty amazing. It is not often that you can look out on a crowd of more than a thousand people and see them all dancing, whether they mean to or not, to a band that most have never heard. I would credit it to James Murphy’s incredible emotional energy, which is almost as tangible in his video for “All My Friends,” his ode to the 1990’s rave culture, as it was live. Because, really, what is more universal than late nights with friends, dancing around on drugs, and bittersweet nostalgia?
Video for “All My Friends” by LCD Soundsystem
Arcade Fire was next on the Starlight stage. Televangelists screeched out of screens set up around the stage, growing into a cacophony that frenzied the crowd before the band took the stage as the pages of the famous neon Bible flashed on the screens.
The band (sans the incomparable Owen Pallet) took the stage and launched into what was one of the most visually spectacular shows I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing. A set of pipes hung in the back as cameras placed about stage provided images of band members that were projected about the stage in brilliant contrast. The effect was strong as people left their seats and crowded in the aisles in order to be just that much closer to the band.
Arcade Fire is a very physical band to begin with, not necessarily in a “thrashing” sense, but they perform in a way that makes them seem as if they are physically pulling every note and word from some deeper place within themselves. Band members hammer away on the glockenspiel, pound on drums, and dance like the crazy, crazy Canadians that they are. They did a good job of playing from both their debut album, Funeral, and their more recent album, Neon Bible, and also incorporated a The Magnetic Fields cover (“Born on a Train”) into the set, saying that Kansas City, “seems like a train kind of town.”
Other highlights included the crowd-pleasing “No Cars Go,” as well as what I think is the greatest rock song of the year, “Intervention” – a song that Win said is “about the governor, or former governor, of me and my brother’s home state.” What state is that? Why, Texas, of course! (Fun fact: Win and William are from The Woodlands). But none compares to when the Fire played “Rebellion (Lies)” to close out the set… it is probably my favorite song I’ve ever seen played live.
“Rebellion (Lies)” live on Letterman
Arcade Fire setlist: Black Mirror, Keep the Car Running, Neighborhood #2 (Laika), No Cars Go, Haiti, In the Backseat, Born on a Train (The Magnetic Fields cover), Intervention, Antichrist Television Blues, Well and the Lighthouse, Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels), Neighborhood #3 (Power Out), and Rebellion (Lies).
It was a brilliant show, all in all… the atmosphere, the energy, the sweat that covered my friend Danny as Win Butler walked through the crowd.
ALSO: Please look here and consider supporting Partners In Health, an organization working to provide free health care in Haiti, Regine’s birthplace.