Arcade Fire at Target Center, 3/8/14

Categories: Last Night
ArcadeFireTN512-1.jpg
Photo by Tony Nelson

Arcade Fire
Target Center, Minneapolis
Saturday, March 8, 2014

Win Butler is either one of the best rock stars in the world, or one of the worst. He can't dance and sweats a lot. He's overly tall and still feels the need to stand on stage monitors to make himself look even more gigantic. Essentially, he's "My Body is a Cage" personified. His stage banter is overly self-congratulatory and often stilted ("This is song is perfect for the Target Center. It's called 'The Suburbs'"). His singing has improved, but is still a mixed bag. But you can tell he cares. A lot. He is the spirited leader of a creative band that plays passionately, and compensates handily for anything an observer doesn't get when looking directly at him.

For the packed Target Center -- loaded with about 10,000 revelers in tuxes, flapper gowns, and banana suits -- putting a critical monocle up to Butler was pointless with such a barrage of activity everywhere.

See Also: Slideshow: Arcade Fire at Target Center, 3/8/14


Back in 2011, there was a lot of merriment when Arcade Fire's The Suburbs won Album of the Year at the Grammys. Kanye West even tweeted about it. Now the Montreal rock band -- still somehow signed to North Carolina indie label Merge Records -- has scored a related sort of win for those still bothering to keep score: They're playing freaking stadiums arenas now.

Co-produced by LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy, last year's Reflektor is Arcade Fire's stab at a dance record, and it's pretty resolute. Their current tour presents that material -- and some of the tried-and-true songs dating back to their debut, Funeral -- with a pageantry budget closer to on par with the Lady Gagas, Bruce Springsteens, and U2s.

The show's mirror-dappled main stage was constantly crowded with gear, microphone stands, cords, and an abundance of people. And congas! Simultaneously, an auxiliary stage on the other end of the arena hosted dancers, and spot performances. The band brought Mirror Man and the Bobbleheads, and turned Target Center into a dance party. The show was epic in scope, and occasionally so in execution.
ArcadeFireTN495.jpg
ArcadeFireTN464.jpg
ArcadeFireTN330.jpg
ArcadeFireTN310.jpg
Photos by Tony Nelson

Someone who deserved to stand out a lot more was Butler's wife, Régine Chassagne. Whenever she got to sing, it was as if the lights and glitter sparkled brighter. Their vocal interplay early on, especially on "Reflektor," proved to be the catalyst for the set's highlights. It wasn't until a Talking Heads-y "Haiti" near the end of the set that she was truly allowed to lead the band, and even then, Butler kept standing in front of her.

Big-strumming rockers like "Joan of Arc," "Rococo" (with a riff on Lady Gaga's "Do What U Want" inserted) and "The Suburbs" were best suited for Butler's brute force on the guitar, and he seemed most comfortable with an instrument in his hand. The distilled moment that looked and felt most like a big-ticket event was the Neon Bible standout "No Cars Go." All that was missing was Chris Martin frolicking onstage. With Chassagne on accordion on one side and his workhorse multi-instrumentalist Richard Reed Perry on the other, Butler called "Let's go!" triumphantly out to the crowd. And they did!

ArcadeFireTN518.jpg
Photo by Tony Nelson

But his presence faltered when he tried to lead the audience by example. Nowhere was this more apparent than "Afterlife," a head-nodding disco jam off the new record. With mirror ball lights kissing the stage and the crowd, he awkwardly prowled the stage and wasted an opportunity to take the willing fans higher.


Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
16 comments
Mildred Bee
Mildred Bee

Definitely the worst. Ironic hipster sillyness is so 2013.

fishywad
fishywad

I'm with Reed on this review.  While it was an okay show, it was not as good as I wanted it to be.  It can be tricky to grow into an arena band, and AF has a ways to go yet.  It seemed like there was too much focus on the spectacle instead of the music and that's where the disconnect was for me.  Hopefully, they can figure things out as their tour progresses.


Also, it shouldn't matter where you sit or how much you paid for your tickets, the band needs to play to everyone from the die-hards to the casual spectators.

(I sat in the lower level, end corner, and got the groupon deal)

emkenun
emkenun

Thankfully, we all get to own an opinion. I was quite happy with this show. 

Ace_Vandersack
Ace_Vandersack

If you keep chasing the perfect show you'll be searching forever. It was a fun, high energy show that made Target Center feel a lot smaller than it is. I think most people were too busy getting down to the music to critique Butler's every move on stage. 

chyloto
chyloto

Absolute garbage review. Best arena rock show I've been to for years.

ReedFischer
ReedFischer moderator

@Ace_Vandersack  I agree that perfection isn't the goal. Knowing how to play to the back row is still important when people have dropped more than a couple bucks to see you play.

solace
solace

@ReedFischer @Ace_Vandersack  curious what frontmen/shows you're referring to in terms of "playing to the back row", and what sort of things you felt Win could do to improve your opinion of that aspect?


the reason i'm asking, is I saw Bon Jovi from the cheap seats way in the back of the upper level at Target Center in 2001, and there was a total disconnect for sure. granted it was mostly out of nostalgia and that he never came to Montana in the 80's and 90's when i lived there, but i was still a little surprised myself.


personally, i'm kind of a snob in terms of where I sit when it comes to arena shows. i'd rather stay home if i'm gonna be in the nosebleeds, because i know i wouldn't appreciate it nearly as much as I would if i was on the floor/close.


for one, it was their second show of the tour, of their first arena tour, so i only envision they'll become even more well oiled by the time I see them again at the end of April.


he did at least comment on the people up in the rafters and thanked them for dressing up as well, granted that was near the very end.



Ace_Vandersack
Ace_Vandersack

@ReedFischer @Ace_Vandersack  Fair point, but isn't that why they added the video monitors and an unbelievably loud sound system to their rig? I thought they owned the room, moreso than I expected them to after they largely played to the floor at Roy Wilkins in 2011. They're still an improving live act no doubt, but for their first time playing the cavernous Target Center they did a pretty damn good job. Like it or not, those sitting in distant reaches of the arena should have gone in with the expectation to feel a slight disconnect from the stage. It is an arena show after all, and you get what you pay for. Floor tickets, while expensive, were worth every penny.  

solace
solace

@Ace_Vandersack  fwiw, they toured with LCD Soundsystem as their opening act in 2007, years before The Suburbs won a grammy ;)

Ace_Vandersack
Ace_Vandersack

@ReedFischer @solace Apples to Oranges. Reznor fronts what many would consider a heavy metal band, or at least a darker, heavier rock n roll band than Arcade Fire. Butler fronts what my girlfriend called a "stoner music band," a tag I totally disagree on, but fair to say they play a different style of live music than NIN. A style that's more expressive than it is explicit. Reznor sings about fucking like animals, Butler sings about a kid telling his Dad he's gay. I get that Win doesn't, in the great words of Jason Lee in Almost Famous, "look for the guy in the crowd who isn't getting off and make him get off," but I think that's contrary to the band's dynamic. I think their live music brings enough energy to where they don't need Win to prowl the stage and look for people's minds to fuck. If anything that would probably turn me off as an AF fan. 


A lot of people like to talk about bands "selling out" by playing a larger venue or signing with a certain label, but really it's about bands acting like someone or something they're not. I would argue that mainstream "Grammy" success hasn't really changed Arcade Fire other than hooked them up with James Murphy to spice their music up a bit, and I think that's a great thing. I definitely understand the gripe about Win being a statue at times though, just have a different take on it

solace
solace

@ReedFischer lol. fair enough. he definitely focus more on the kids directly in front of him, no question.


they'll grow into arenas with time i'm sure, just as they did with theaters, etc. i know they weren't very keen on the idea of playing such big places, but sadly there's not really anywhere to go after Roy Wilkins besides Target or Xcel.


i could also counter argue that they are definitely more a BAND than say Coldplay who are Chris Martin and some other dudes nobody knows their name. and that i don't always require my favorite bands to have super engaging frontmen if i feel the band is great.


but i totally understand what you're saying... re: our Future Islands convo the other day, diff strokes for diff folks.

ReedFischer
ReedFischer moderator

@solace  Look at the photographs of Win from the night. From five feet away or 500 feet away, he's mostly just standing static on a monitor. Trent Reznor would be an example of someone who is playing to the eyeballs in any size of room instead of wearing them on his pants.

Ace_Vandersack
Ace_Vandersack

@ReedFischer @Ace_Vandersack  I can't disagree with you on that point. I've never viewed Win Butler as necessarily a great live frontman, but I also think it would be disingenuous for him to be twerking like Miley or slamming beers like The Boss. They're a playfully awkward band, quite unlike any other band I've seen in an arena, and I think Win's stage presence works off that playful awkwardness. I'll concede their dynamic is not terribly accessible for the average concertgoer, and I think that's where reaching the "back row" of an arena is maybe a challenge. It was the second show of a five month tour for a band not accustomed to playing arenas every night (though I understand why most non-music nerds don't give a crap about that), and I thought they killed it

ReedFischer
ReedFischer moderator

@Ace_Vandersack @ReedFischer  Within the Arcade Fire fan universe, this is a common opinion. As a more-moderate supporter of the band, I was not completely "won over" by what I experienced from semi-decent seats. Compared to several Target/Xcel concerts I've attended, this was not as fluid. And the lead member of a band plays heavily into that. No one so far has argued to me that Win Butler was a great frontman Saturday. People had fun on the floor, and there's nothing wrong with that.   

Now Trending

Minnesota Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...