Monday, August 9, 2010

Review: Arcade Fire at Merriweather

Photo by Greg Szeto

Friday night I retreated to the suburbs in Columbia, Maryland (where I grew up) for a big rock show at Merriweather Post Pavilion. Montreal's Arcade Fire came to town, fresh off the release of their new LP, aptly titled The Suburbs.

I sensed a theme, and proceeded to watch Win Butler and his band of professional rock stars serenade the suburbanites. I've spent a little bit of time with their new album, which has yet to win over my ears fully. It has it's moments, but maybe it's because I no longer reside in a community that has cul-de-sacs, streets named after poetry, village centers, and a "People Tree"?

Probably not, but the band won me back with their live set regardless of how I feel about the new full length. They churned out all of our favorite songs from Funeral and Neon Bible, but sprinkled in highlights like "Rococo" from The Suburbs. When a drum machine malfunction abruptly ended one of the new tracks, "Neighborhood #2 (Laika)" was played instead and I'm pretty sure no one complained. "Wake Up" was the encore, and warm vibes were felt the world over (or at least from River Hill to Long Reach).

This is a band with a sound that is fit for an amphitheater, as cries rang out from a talented cast of musicians armed with violins, drums, and megaphones that reflected beautifully against the trees of the surrounding Symphony Woods. A big sound, with seemingly big ideas... gobbled by the masses.

After the show, I left the suburban lands and headed back towards the city to which I inhabit. I went straight from Merriweather to the intimate depths of the Annex for a different kind of rock show. Weekends were headlining, and I was in time to see them and an awesome band from Austin called Zorch. Zorch killed it, and a chunk of Brendan and Adam's friends got rowdy on the stage throughout a pretty hearty Weekends set that was chock full of new material.

Friday night I experienced two things - an influential band with a new album called The Suburbs, and an urban-dwelling guitar/drum duo that is releasing an LP called Strange Cultures. I watched thousands of people descend upon a grand amphitheater to experience a musical occurrence, and then contrasted it with a handful of friends and sweaty peers dancing around in an old warehouse because the sounds make them really feel something.

Both were kind of beautiful in their own right.

Photo by Greg Szeto


Anonymous said...

Great article on your behalf. I can't recall reading anything on this site with the same degree of journalism as you wove into this one - not a bad/good thing, just noting. I thought Suburbs was pretty disappointing. It lingers on a single concept without refining or expanding it. Orchestrally though the album grew on to me just in time for me to regret not going to this show. My jealousy extends to the Weekends show likewise.

Anonymous said...

I liked Spoon's performance better. I'm an older person. Could be why. When Arcade Fire roadies were setting up it was hard not to be curious and excited! At least it was a worthy performance for their fans.