A review of Arcade Fire’s concert in Bushwick—a night of costumes, Congos, and cutting the lights
This past weekend, the Grammy award-winning indie rock band Arcade Fire played two intimate shows in Brooklyn under another name, “The Reflektors”. The shows took place at 299 Meserole St. in Bushwick, Brooklyn. This location has hardly been used as a concert venue, but on October 18th and 19th it took on the personality of a Halloween-ish disco hall, a ballroom suited for only the zealous and well dressed fans of Arcade Fire. Ticket holders to the secret show were only given one simple instruction: “Formal attire or costume mandatory”. Leave it to Brooklyn-ites to take this instruction to heart. Out the door and several blocks down, a line of well dressed devils, flapper girls, renaissance men and zombies eagerly awaited their entry into the world of “The Reflektors”. Doors opened around 8:30, and we filed in to the cramped yet characteristic space of 299 Meserole, not quite knowing what to expect.
Once in the door we were led into an open space, completely dark aside from colorful strobe lights and a single disco ball hanging in the middle of the room. On a single black curtain, the name “The Reflektors” was projected, indicating which curtain concealed the stage (audiences were lucky this time, the October 18th performance opened with a trick stage switch). Fans crowded to the front of the stage while 70s and 80s club-pop music played from speakers around the venue. We danced and cheered at the end of each song, anticipating “The Reflektors” to come out at any minute. Finally, around 9:40, the curtain was drawn to reveal a chaotic array of instruments, typical of an Arcade Fire performance space. Band members Win Butler, Regine Chassagne, Richard Reed Parry, William Butler, Tim Kingsbury, Sara Neufeld, and Jeremy Gara walked on stage and introduced themselves as “The Reflektors”. The crowd erupted in cheers as the band played the first notes of “Reflektor”.
The show was dedicated to songs from their latest album, “Reflektor”, set to release on October 29th. The set list was 10 songs long, lasting about an hour. Even though most of the set list was new to the audience, it was delivered with such high-power that we had no choice but to dance and sing along with them. “The Reflektors” introduced Arcade Fire songs by saying they were going to perform covers of a band from Montreal (clever, don’t you think?). The first “cover” was “Sprawl II” from the album The Suburbs. When Regine sang “I need the darkness so please cut the light”, the lights in the venue shut off instantly for a few seconds and the audience filled the darkness with cheering. During “Neighborhood # 3 (Power Out)” the band reached new heights of musical energy. The song gradually increased in intensity, and by the near end of it, the audience was jumping, head-banging, arm waving and shouting along with front man Win Butler. The venue truly came alive.
As the band went into the latter part of the set, the guest percussionist pounded out rambunctious rhythms on Congo Drums while the other band mates clapped and danced around on stage. The entire venue was surging with dance and heat (literal, sweaty, heat) as the band jammed in the midst of their shift into the slow, rocking beats of the “Here Comes the Night Time”. In addition to these euphoric dance interludes, Win Butler shocked his fans and jumped into the crowd, staying suspended for a few minutes of screaming while hundreds of hands touched and lifted the rock star. Each crowd member went wild with dancing, singing, and clapping as Arcade Fire concluded their show as “The Reflektors”.
The entire show had an element of compassion shared between the band and the audience. Front woman Regine Chassagne often extended her arms out to the crowd while singing, encouraging us to be a part of the bold declarations taking place on stage. Lead singer Win Butler not only spent minutes held up in the air by the misfit, costumed crowd, but he addressed his crowd lovingly, as if the honor was truly his. The entire band took part in the raucous they created, losing themselves in their own music, while inviting us to become lost with them. Arcade Fire is entering a new stage in their career, and this show was an adventurous, near flawless transition into it. For more information regarding the upcoming Arcade Fire tour and album release, follow us on Twitter!