All You Need to Know About: Arcade Fire in Vancouver
Montreal's Arcade Fire is that rarest of things: a Canadian band that the rest of the world actually cares about. An act that is signed to a major label and headlines hockey rinks but is still described as "indie rock" in its Wikipedia entry. A group that somehow maintained its left-of-mainstream street cred while its latest album, Everything Now, hit the number-one slot on four separate Billboard charts. It's a nice position to be in, and its one that no doubt allows the band members—headed up by the husband-and-wife combo of Win Butler and Régine Chassagne—to fill their wardrobes with all sorts of fancy outfits. Here's hoping that your closet is similarly stocked, because if you're planning to attend Arcade Fire's concert at Pacific Coliseum on Saturday (October 14), you had better be dressed to the nines. The group has courted controversy before by imposing a dress code at its performances, although that might have been just Butler trolling fans. Even so, it's probably a good idea to leave the shorts and flip-flops at home.
CH-CH-CH-CH-CHANGES. Some time between its self-titled 2002 debut EP and its first full-length album, 2004’s Funeral, Arcade Fire considered making a couple of major changes. Former member Brendan Reed told the French music magazine DumDum that not only was the band seriously thinking about relocating to Belgium, it also nearly changed its name. “I remember Win [Butler], Richard [Reed Parry], and Régine [Chassagne] went to this somewhat religious retreat that Josh Deu’s family ran in New Hampshire,” Reed said. “It was after the recording of our EP in Maine. When they got back, they seemed to have sharpened their vision of the future, or have some new toolset to achieve the vision. They actually talked about changing the band name to The Visions.”
CIRCLE THE DATE. Assuming you haven’t been hanging out for months already before changing gears, first dates can be awkward. Unless one of you is an unrepentant motormouth, there are awkward silences to be filled. There’s are also often horrifying realizations that no amount of physical attraction can overcome, including finding yourself sitting across the table from someone who likes (take your pick) the music and politics of Ted Nugent; the films of Wes Anderson; kale. Win Butler’s first date with his future wife Régine Chassagne was, however, evidently magical, mostly because the two reportedly wasted no time getting busy. And no, perverts, we’re not talking that kind of busy. In a 2010 profile in The Guardian, Chassagne revealed that she was attracted to Butler’s deep seriousness, focus, and ambition. The latter two no doubt played a huge part in a first date turning into a writing session that yielded the song “Headlights Look Like Diamonds” off Arcade Fire’s debut EP. Chassagne has sometimes disputed that the date was a “date”, but she’s never changed her tune on what she first saw in Butler. Of that day in his apartment, she later said: “I thought, ‘He’s for real, a real songwriter, not just doodling stuff and dreaming he’s going to be a great guitar hero.’”
RETURN FIRE. In 2014, Rolling Stone asked Win Butler to respond to a damning Washington Post review of Reflektor in which critic Chris Richards wrote “Look, I’m sure they’re very nice people, but on their fourth album, Reflektor, Arcade Fire still sound like gigantic dorks with boring sex lives.” “Whatever,” Butler responded. “I’m a super-dork because I play with David Bowie. Bruce Springsteen wants to cover my songs because I’m such a dork. I’m not a dork. I’m a fucking rock star.” Oh, and Butler also took the time to provide Richards—who had mocked Arcade Fire’s apparent newfound infatuation with bongos—with a crash course in hand-drum terminology. Those aren’t bongos, dude; they’re called congas.
BASKETBALL JONES. Win Butler is a man of many talents, one of them being shooting hoops. Butler played varsity basketball as a student at the Phillips Exeter Academy prep school in New Hampshire, and the six-foot-four musician apparently still possesses some serious skills on the court. More recently, he has played in the NBA's Celebrity All-Star Game for the past several years, and was named Most Valuable Player in 2016. Playing for the victorious Team Canada—coached by Drake—last year, Butler (who was actually born in the U.S.) scored 15 points with 14 rebounds. When asked about his rock-star baller status after the game, Butler told reporters “It’s not something that ever occurred to me as a life dream, but it’s pretty cool." At this year's game, Butler scored 22 points and got 11 rebounds, but lost the MVP title to Team East teammate Brandon Armstrong.
GO BIG OR STAY HOME. One of the greatest things about Arcade Fire's live show is its embracing the idea that nothing entertains like a spectacle. At a July show in New York, for example band members wore matching “Everything Now” shirts and jackets and hung banners emblazoned with song titles from the album. Fans, meanwhile, were decked out in pink tank tops featuring the word “Chemistry” and given specially made cereal boxes to drive home the point that everything these days is about branding. The release of Everything Now included such promo items as USB fidget spinners and satirical Kendall and Kylie Jenner T-shirts. Arcade Fire’s penchant for making every record and show an event might be traced back to Win Butler’s first major concert experience. In 1997 the American-born Canadian caught U2 at Houston’s Astrodome on the band’s much-maligned Pop-Mart tour. What was slammed at the time as style over substance (remember the giant lemon mirrorball and 12-foot-wide olive complete with cocktail stick?) looked like anything but to the future Arcade Fire frontman. “To me, if a song is really good and something else is happening,” he told Rolling Stone, “then this thing happens with them together—that is amazing.”More