Montreal’s indie-rock pioneers Arcade Fire gave a stunning performance to a nearly sold-out audience at the UCCU Events Center on Monday, April 11, along with their openers, the Los Angeles-based psych-folk band Local Natives.
Fans of the Grammy award-winning band started lining up for their performance around noon and by 4:00 p.m., the line wrapped down the steps of the Events Center into the parking lot. Hundreds of fans poured through the doors at 6:00 p.m., eagerly pushing towards the front of the stage.
The lights dimmed and a familiar projection, made to resemble a drive-in movie, illuminated the stage. The trailer for the 1979 movie Over the Edge started the performance.
The film about a suburban community full of neglected children who create their own entertainment through rowdiness, vandalism and disorder has a plot that perfectly compliments themes of teenage rebellion prevalent in Arcade Fire’s 2010 album The Suburbs.
Win Butler and his wife Regine Chassagne led the band in their seventeen-song performance, which featured selections from all three of their albums. The performance never dragged for a moment; the show was intensely energetic, an almost spiritual experience for the nearly 4,000 fans that came from all over the state.
The eight-piece band burst into the explosive “Month of May,” a heavy driving, art-punk track off of The Suburbs, to a screaming crowd crashing against the front of the stage. The band took full advantage of the arena’s size with three massive projection screens and ever-changing colors and strobes. This visual blast coupled with an incredibly energetic, multi-instrumental band gave the crowd an almost euphoric sensory overload.
After the first song, the band went straight into a few tracks from their debut album, Funeral. The crowd screamed the choruses from “Rebellion (Lies),” while “Neighborhood #2 (Laika)” featured the talented, multi-instrumental Chassagne playing the menacing accordion melody. They continued with “City With No Children” before heading straight into “Roccoco,” with nearly every member of the audience echoing the enchanting, one-word chorus.
Butler thanked the crowd, sharing that one dollar from every ticket would be donated to Partners in Health, a charity dedicated to helping the citizens of Haiti.
“We’re so glad to be back,” said Butler. “Salt Lake City donated more money to Partners in Health than anywhere else on our last tour. We really appreciate your help.”
The band went into the monolithic “Intervention,” a dramatic pipe organ projected on the main screen, after Butler abandoned his post at the front of the stage to retreat to a piano to perform a breathtaking version of “The Suburbs.” They slipped into the refrain and drifted into “Suburban War” before performing the endearing “Haiti.”
Butler jumped on the P.A. monitors to sing the heart-stopping “We Used To Wait” and the wild, energetic “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out).” They moved into a warming performance of “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels),” then the crowd screamed the harmonic, set-closing chorus of “Wake Up.”
Of course, an epic performance like this needed an encore of equal magnitude, and their performances of “Ready to Start,” “Keep The Car Running” and “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” certainly hit their mark.
Openers Local Natives gave a memorable performance of tracks from their album Gorilla Manor. The clattering, driving rhythms of the percussion, the jangly guitar leads and the swirling three-part harmonies were energetic and uplifting. The highlight of their set was the performance of “Warning Sign,” a Talking Heads cover that they’ve treated with impeccable harmonies and a youthful joy to make it their own.
“We were supposed to be in studio recording our second album,” said Local Natives’ Taylor Rice. “But we couldn’t pass up an opportunity like this.”