.

Arcade Fire Jam Out at Tiny Pre-Grammys Show

Last-minute Los Angeles show attracts 500 hardcore fans

February 12, 2011 3:20 PM ET
Win Butler of Arcade Fire rehearses for the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, February 10, 2011.
Win Butler of Arcade Fire rehearses for the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, February 10, 2011.
John Shearer/WireImage

To gear up for their Grammy Awards performance, Arcade Fire decided to put on a show that was decidedly more low-key, but no less enthusiastic than Sunday's will undoubtedly be: a last-minute gig at the Ukrainian Culture Center of Los Angeles. The show attracted around 500 hardcore fans, some of whom had camped out Thursday night to score tickets at one of three purchase points in LA, and who accompanied the band's 90-minute set with frenzied choral-singing, fist-pumping and foot-stomping.

Grammy Awards Blowout: What to Watch for, Highlights From Ceremonies Past, Live Blog and More

"We can't tell you how good for the spirit it is to play a small show like this," said frontman Win Butler halfway through the eight-piece group's show. "Thanks for coming."

Photos: Arcade Fire's Greatest Performances

The band opened with a bracing version of "Month of May," the punkiest cut from 2010's hit The Suburbs, then segued directly into "Rebellion (Lies)," with Win's younger brother Will going nuts on a portable tom-tom drum. (For all of Win's junior-Bono intensity, it's worth noting that Will Butler might actually be the most exciting band member to watch, as he demonstrated with some seriously dramatic xylophone technique during "Intervention.")

The 30 Best Albums of 2010: 'The Suburbs'

True to the band's Canadian-collectivist roots, Win moved to bass for a speedy take on Neon Bible's "No Cars Go," while Régine Chassagne took over lead vocals in "Haiti," shimmying to the tune's jaunty rhythm like an indie-rock Shakira. Win later mentioned that a dollar from each $30 ticket would go toward earthquake-relief efforts in Haiti, where Chassagne's parents were born; he also urged the Haitian government to "sue the fucking shit out of" deposed dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, who recently returned to the country following a quarter-century exile. 

Photos: Arcade Fire Rock Madison Square Garden

Compared to Arcade Fire's headlining shows last August at Madison Square Garden – not to mention the pro treatment they're sure to get at the Grammys – the sound inside the bingo-appropriate Culture Center left a lot to be desired: Let's just say you had to use your imagination to hear Chassagne's accordion in "Neighborhood #2 (Laïka)."

The 50 Best Songs of 2010: 'We Used to Wait'

But because nearly every song turned into a ragtag singalong – especially "Wake Up," which inspired a huge surge toward the stage – the crappy mix hardly made an impact. By the time an old-fashioned crowd-surfer appeared during the group's closer, "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)," it was obvious these newly minted rock stars were enjoying their night down on Earth.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

prev
Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.

X

We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

More Song Stories entries »
 
www.expandtheroom.com