I really feel a deep connection to this place. Says Win Butler before playing his last song in the drizzling rain in front of two sets of stacked lights and behind rows of Christmas lights and swaying fans, oh oh OH oh oh, oh OHing to the first strands of Wake Up.
(it gets really good at 1:04, please watch, and gets epic at 1:35, so keep watching!)
Now that I’m older, my heart is colder. He sings. Before we all oooh again. Well, none of our hearts were cold that night. And when he said children, don’t grow up – we certainly didn’t. And I certainly don’t think I will ever forget seeing Arcade Fire with 249 other people, in a clearing in the woods in Big Sur, with rain drops and bright stars and big trees.
There was “no rain” chanting, Colin Stetson on the saxophone for the first time live – after a fitting LCD-like anticipatory build-up for “We Used To Wait” – singing Happy Birthday to Will Butler, my arms reaching out and touching Win Butler as he ran through the fans, Regine with streamers bouncing around the stage – a moment of abandoned brightness in Arcade’s dark lyrics – for Sprawl II.
I’ve always been amazed at how a band so darkly introspective in lyrics can become so anthemic and uplifting in spirit. If you’re not part of a surging crowd – be it a couple hundred or 18,000 – you aren’t really experiencing Arcade Fire. And this was the most intimate, backyard wondrousness with which I’ve ever experienced them, or any other band for that matter.
After the show, we lay around in the grass and stared at the stars, look what Big Sur will do to a bunch of semi-LA hipsters, and then wandered over to the side of the Henry Miller library, where Win Butler and Tim Kingsbury just kinda hung out, signed stuff, and talked.
I used this opportunity to say to him: “Hey, I read this New York Times article where you say – ‘It’s not like we’d license Keep the Car Running to a car company’ – and I just wanna let you know I know your secret. You almost did. To us.” (article here) To which he responded something like, “We just couldn’t do it. I mean, we wanted to raise money for Haiti but in the end it just isn’t us.” To which I – mortified at this point, not believing the words came out of my mouth to the lead singer of one of my favorite bands ever whose music I’ve essentially grown up with, can’t believe I’ve brought up something as unimportant to him as our one ad – respond, “It doesn’t matter. You’re the best.” Mumbled something more of the sort and mumbled more about them being the best band I’ve ever seen at Coachella.
BTW, they did play “Keep the Car Running” and it was a strange combination of memories of long nights in VBE listening to that song over and over again and the magnitude of seeing it live, feet from the stage and singing along to him singing. Thought about texting li, but then realized I wasn’t getting any cell service.
And then Allyson said, my friend has something to tell you! And Jacqui said, I have never danced so much in my life! And then I said, And she dances a LOT!
And then I asked him to sign something, but I already have the vinyl so didn’t buy it at the show and used the closest thing handy made of paper – pictured below.
I could have just waxed poetic to W. B. about how magical and wonderful the show was or something like that, kind of how I want to do with this blog entry. But I embarrassed myself instead. Ah well, at least I was being myself.
For blog brevity’s sake, I’m going to post some pictures and the setlist. Instead of rambling on.
Big Sur sunset, walking down the hill to the show.
My photo of Regine. Note how close I am!
Someone’s polaroid of Win. Cool hair dude, like seriously, I really liked the hair cut.
And finally, this blog post wouldn’t be complete without a shout out to Lyle Hysen and Sarah Smith at Bank Robber Music, through Merge Records, who got us into the show, minus a minor snafu where my +1 didn’t show up on their clipboard will call list and I had to run up an enormous hill to get service after waiting an hour in line and call Sarah Smith (ironically, not the Sarah Smith my sister) and have her call the Henry Miller library, the tour manager, and text me all this info in order to get Noah in just ten minutes before Arcade Fire got on stage. Whew. Thanks Sarah!
And finally finally, a huge shout out to the crew for being awesome friends, dancers, beer drinkers, campers and troopers.
The crew: Ben Stone, Jacqui Deborja, Hobart Birmingham, Noah Roper, Allyson Pfeifer and Justin Fry. <3
PS Drove back six hours from Big Sur after zero sleep on a deflated air mattress in the freezing cold and drizzling rain, didn't go home, went straight to work for a few hours, drank with co-workers for a going away party, and then was up after midnight writing copydecks for a 10a presentation today. That's dedication to work, Chiat Day!