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The Arcade Fire/LCD Soundsystem @ Red Rocks

at Red Rocks Amphitheater – September 17, 2007

by Mystik Spiral

Have you ever had a feeling of impending yet unspeakable greatness?  Like there is something lurking on the horizon that will be mind-blowing and unlike anything you have ever witnessed?  That’s how I felt when I heard that The Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsystem were planning a tour together, and that the tour was opening at none other than my beloved Red Rocks Amphitheater.

The news about two of this year’s hottest indie bands playing the hottest venue in the nation spread through the blog-o-sphere like wildfire earlier this summer.  That the show was to take place a mere two days after Monolith was just icing on the cake.  In addition to Monolith, Okkervil River and The National were coming through town the same week.  I, like many others, spent months preparing for the glory that SEPTEMBER 2007 had suddenly turned into.  Of course, the risk of developing high expectations for a show is the increasing difficulty of that show to meet such expectations.  Luckily, on a slightly chilly September evening in lovely Morrison, CO, expectations were not only met, but exceeded.

We came in via the top of the amphitheater, just as LCD Soundsystem was taking the stage, to find the place about halfway full.  This was somewhat surprising to me, given that The Arcade Fire sells venues out at the drop of a hat.  Keeping in mind, though, that Red Rocks holds around 9,000, maybe it shouldn’t be so surprising.  I suppose what’s MORE surprising (not to mention impressive) is that the last time The Arcade Fire played in Colorado was at the 250-capacity Larimer Lounge less than three years ago.  And no, I was not there.  Sadly.

Back to LCD Soundsystem.  I wasn’t sure which band I was more excited to see; though James Murphy and co. made a solid argument for themselves with their pulse-thumping, booty-shaking deliciousness.  Despite the requisite harping on the thin Colorado air (“This is very high altitude.  Every time I sing a high note, I feel like I’m going to pass out. If I do, well, uh, sorry.”), LCD tore it up.  Even my three LCD Soundsystem-challenged friends were converted: “I liked them more than I thought I would”;  “They were really really good”.  The highlight of their set, for me – cowbell and three-man synchronized drumming notwithstanding – was James belting out “where are your friends tonight?” at the end of All My Friends.  If there is one thing that dragged the set down it was the closer – New York I Love You.  I love that song, but after an hour + of maniacal dancing and energy it was a bit of a downer.

Then came the wait for The Arcade Fire.  The Monolith Festival spoiled me over the weekend as I never had to wait around for the next band.  Luckily, there are few places better for people-watching than Red Rocks – the crowd was quite diverse.  The seats to my left were like a revolving door as there were at least three different pairs of people who had sat there since we arrived.  During the set break I got to endure a pair of guys who seemingly parked just long enough to smoke their joint before heading off to another spot.  Red Rocks is pot-smoke- enveloped enough without having it right next door.  Ah well.

Before too long a black and white video of some sort of raving foul-mouthed televangelist pervaded both the Red Rocks video screen and the half dozen or so screens that the band had set up on stage.  A few minutes more and the band entered the red-light-bathed stage and launched straight into Black Mirror.  This was my first live Arcade Fire experience, and no matter how much I’ve read and heard about their performances, nothing has prepared me for what I witnessed that chilly night at Red Rocks.  The band itself is just… epic.  Nine (ten?) members who each have so much energy that it’s hard to know where to focus your eyes, incredible songs, more instruments than you can imagine… to say it was a spectacle is a severe understatement.

 Besides trying to watch the band itself, there were images of the Neon Bible insignia or band members in live action projected not only to the onstage screens but also the rocks behind the stage.  It was an overwhelming sight to behold and I couldn’t help but feel that I would be well-served if I had about a dozen more eyes.  The entire performance, almost equally representing Funeral and Neon Bible, was completely awe-inspiring.  (Antichrist Television Blues) was cemented as my favorite track on Neon Bible, and Wake Up brought me very nearly to tears.  I admit I was skeptical whether any band, The Arcade Fire or not, could follow the LCD Soundsystem set with anything near the same energy and intensity, but Win Butler and his band were more than up to the task.  This night at Red Rocks may very well go down as the most amazing gig I have ever attended.

Black Mirror
Keep The Car Running
Neighbourhood #2 (Laïka)
No Cars Go
(Antichrist Television Blues)
Cold Wind
The Well And The Lighthouse
Ocean Of Noise
Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)
Rebellion (lies)
Money Changes Everything (incomplete)
Wake Up

Photos by [solace]

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