Arcade Fire is set to release their fourth studio album Reflektor on October 28, and they’ve taken an interesting approach to advertising themselves. What they’ve essentially done is abandon the Arcade Fire name temporarily so they could be re-labeled as The Reflektors, a band whose rise to fame was assured once fans realized it was the same band. One really nice part about this strategy is that The Reflektors didn’t start by playing in gigantic venues, their first gigs were intimate and often unannounced events where they would usually play nearly entirely new material. It was a rare chance to see such a widely successful band in a small club and it gained them a lot of notoriety from music publications. When Arcade Fire announced last week that they would be playing two gigs in Brooklyn on Friday and Saturday, I decided to pre-order their album so that I could get myself into the pre-sale. The shows were at a seldom used venue and only had one requirement: formal attire or costume required. I was extremely excited about the possibility of the show as their previous gigs seemed like the coolest concerts I had ever heard of, but some of my expectations were misled while others were exceeded.
For starters, the ticket situation was handled in a completely fair and understandable way, but it could have been done better. Nearly 80% of the tickets that were sold were sold in the pre-sale so that scalpers couldn’t dictate the price to much, a good idea which was probably suggested by James Murphy after the fiasco of trying to sell tickets to his final show in Madison Square Garden, but it had the fallback of making the affair almost entirely white middle aged couples who wanted to attend in their formal wear. It wasn’t a dancing crowd for sure, and this could have been easily fixed by opening up an allotment of tickets to CMJ badges, or the college radio kids that helped them rise to fame. They would have gotten students to camp out at the venue in their costumes and bring energy to the front of the crowd,but instead they filled the room with statues holding iPhones.
One thing that was noticed once the line began to move was that this wasn’t an intimate venue, but rather one gigantic room (similar to an Armory show for Albany perspective). New York was the Reflektors first big gig and where they wanted to take the city by storm with thousands of people present for the show. The ratio of formal attire wearers to costume was about 3.5:1 with many choosing to wear masks and some being clever and showing up in group costumes (unfortunately I can’t recall any of the more clever ones). The show had no opener but had what I suspect was a James Murphy DJ set occurring before hand as it was awesomely curated and Murphy himself came out from behind the main curtain to introduce the crowd to tonight’s band, The Reflektors. Three members came out wearing the large heads that we’ve seen in the SNL video and music video for “Reflektor”, and these three played some jarbled noise for two minutes before setting their instruments down and running off the stage.
At this point I should state that within this gigantic room, I was pushed nearly entirely to the side wall with a not-so-great view of the stage but the intention of working my way to the middle once the music started. The large headed musicians ran off the stage in our general direction and went behind the curtain wall on the side of the venue, leaving audience members confused about what was currently happening as everybody began to turn their attention away from the stage. It’s at this point that all of a sudden, the side wall’s curtain was lifted to reveal a second stage, where Arcade Fire was standing and immediately began playing the album opener “Reflektor”. This was an event that nearly blew my mind as I went from being stuck in a pretty poor position to being about eight rows back and only slightly off center in a single moment. They apologized to the fans who were close to the other stage, who chose to watch the performance from the fake stage and seemed to have a great time there. Frontman Win Butler insinuated that the band would find a way to make it worth their while and I believe the band went over there afterwards in order to sign autographs to make up for it.
In terms of the actual music, all of the Reflektor tracks sound amazing with the highlight being “Here Comes the Night Time”. They played two older songs which were referred to as ‘Arcade Fire covers’ in “Sprawl II” and “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)” and on the last song of the night Win jumped into the crowd and seemingly disappeared as he never returned to the stage until the set had ended to inform the crowd that there would be no encore, but a disco set where he wanted everybody to stay and dance. All in all it was an awesome show to be a part of and probably the coolest event I’ve ever gone to, I was only disappointed by how gigantic of an event it was and how un-energetic the crowd seemed to be. I’d still highly suggest trying to see them on their upcoming world tour though for sure, bring a costume if you go and dance!