Arcade Fire w/ Phantogram
KeyArena, Seattle, WA
From disco brilliance to neon spectacle, Arcade Fire aren’t afraid to put an over-the-top spin on things, which is exactly what they did at Seattle’s KeyArena for a stop supporting this summer’s release of their fifth full-length, Everything Now. Satirical, tongue-in-cheek marketing and fake advertisements abounded, the stage set for escapism by the way of strobe lights and truly arena-sized instrumentation.
Opening the show were Phantogram, the duo of Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel, who’ve been touring heavily for the last few years, in support of both their third album, Three, and 2015’s collaboration with Big Boi, Big Grams. Playing live as a four-piece, Barthel’s fringed sleeves sweeping through the spotlight, Phantogram once again delivered a solid electro-rock set that seemed to bring their own fans out to the show—plenty in the crowd were dancing and shouting along with the lyrics.
In the break between sets, we watched as the stage, in the center of the arena floor, was reassembled with instruments aplenty for the nine touring members of Arcade Fire to cram themselves between. A literal maze of music. Giant disco balls dropped from the ceiling and lit up the crowd while cheesy fake ads proclaiming, “Who will believe you were here if you don’t take home a souvenir?” streamed from the jumbotrons. It was a feast for senses and the show hadn’t even started yet.
As it did, the band bounded into the arena as though entering a heavyweight boxing match, the square stage dressed in classic ropes, an announcer giving weight to the band’s accomplishments. They kicked off their set with the title track off their latest album, and the crowd was instantly on their feet. Over the course of their 13-year career, if there’s one thing Arcade Fire have had since day one, it’s their big band sound, instruments on instruments, multi-part harmonies you can’t help sing along to.
While Everything Now has gotten mixed-reception amongst critics, it seemed someone forgot to tell their fans. There was no hesitation through an exhaustive two-hour set for them to shout along with every word. While the wrestling ropes were dropped from the stage just a few tracks in, the band’s trademark not-giving-a-damn attitude and energy were unstoppable. During “Rebellion (Lies),” lead Win Butler douses the crowd with a water bottle and removes his jacket and there’s no stopping them from there.
The set spanned all five albums in their catalog, new tracks getting just as good a reception as older hits like “Electric Blue” and “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels).” The crowd seemed to instantly know to light up their phones for “Neon Bible,” the arena a twinkling bowl of light, and the band let them sing entire choruses on their own during “Suburbs” and set closer “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out).” But that certainly wasn’t the end of the night. A three-track encore finished us off, with “Wake Up” leaving everyone on a high note.
Review by Stephanie Dore
Photos by Sunny Martini
Arcade Fire and Phantogram