“One of our defining aesthetics is our amateur edge,” Arcade Fire‘s William Butler says in a new installment of Vevo’s Tour Exposed series, which takes a behind-the-scenes look at the band’s ongoing arena tour in support of their latest album Reflektor. “So trying things out on the road adds a vibe that is not quite professional in a way that is really powerful. It’s not just smooth operating all the time. I think people can sense that; it’s like watching a tightrope walker whose maybe had a couple scotches.”
That desire to keep things exciting and intimate influences every aspect of Arcade Fire’s tour. Though they’ve been doing the festival and arena circuit for some time, the band remains set on creating an inviting, comfortable space for not just their hordes of fans, but for themselves as well. With the help of a slew of familiar crew members, their longtime production designer Richard Stembridge and ace sound guy Jim Warren, you can find out how Arcade Fire goes about making arenas feel like a rock club night after night.
The arena setting is also new for opening act Dan Deacon, who lauds the band’s commitment to creating such a warm atmosphere, noting in particular how the costumes Arcade Fire and their fans have been wearing allow the crowd to loosen up and give the massive venue the feeling of a giant house. “We both realize that the audience is an aspect of the performance, if not the largest aspect,” Deacon says. “The more trust you give to your audience, the more they’re gonna put back into it.”
Keeping with the Reflektor tour’s seat-of-your-pants ethos, Arcade Fire has made a habit of covering location-specific songs throughout the trek: On Sunday they covered Chuck Berry‘s “Roll Over Beethoven” in St. Louis, while previously they treated fans in Minneapolis to a rendition of Prince‘s “Controversy,” played Boyz II Men’s “Motownphilly” in Philadelphia, and, somewhat cheekily, busted out Kansas’ “Dust in the Wind” during a stop in Kansas City, Missouri (“That’s gonna kill when we play Lawrence, though,” frontman Win Butler cracked afterwards).