Arcade Fire / Barclay’s Center / Brooklyn, NY / August 24th, 2014

Arcade Fire Barclay's Center
Photo by Guy Aroch

This had to have been the strangest bill ever assembled in an arena. At no point would you ever think that Arcade Fire, Dan Deacon, Television, and The Unicorns would ever play in the same place, especially if that place was an 18,000-seat arena. However, since their Grammy win, Arcade Fire have essentially done whatever they wanted, including convincing long-dormant bands to reunite as openers on the massive, ornate Reflektor tour. Still, given the differing nature of each group of performers, Sunday night’s conclusion of the band’s three-night Brooklyn stand, the show as a whole couldn’t help but feel a little disjointed.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that the performances weren’t solid. The Unicorns sounded tight and invigorated, especially considering that it’s been a decade since they were a functioning band. Television didn’t miss a beat, either. It took Tom Verlaine a little while to acclimate himself to the cavernous surroundings, but once he did, the band seemed to come alive, particularly when their set favored songs off of their classic Marquee Moon. Arguably, Dan Deacon was the only artist that really disappointed: while his blissful, infectious take on dance and electronica is appealing, the very nature of his stage setup (he prefers to perform within the crowd instead of on a stage, and Barclay’s accommodated him as best they could) meant that those not on the arena floor were left as spectators to what was clearly meant to be an interactive experience.

Photo by JF Lalonde
Photo by JF Lalonde

Of course, Arcade Fire had no such problems playing to such a large crowd. That’s not surprising: even their early material has an aching grandiosity to it, as if these songs could only really make sense with a ,massive crowd of people singing along with the band. While their set relied somewhat on their new album, the band didn’t shy away from giving fans some of the deep cuts. Keeping with their theme of honoring New York’s early punk scene, the band brought out David Byrne–clad in a black suit and makeup that made him look positively vampiric–to join them for a cover of Suicide’s “Dream Baby Dream,” but the crowd was arguably most excited when Arcade Fire revisited their debut masterpiece Funeral with songs like “Haiti,” “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels),” and the epic singalong closer “Wake Up.” By the end of the night, the arena may have looked a little too small for Arcade Fire.

– Kevin Korber

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