This past weekend, current title holders of World's Best Band, aka The Arcade Fire, engulfed Chicago on a three-night mini residency. After playing a raucous opening night Friday, band members Will Butler and Marika Shaw sang the seventh-inning stretch Saturday at Wrigley Field as the Cubs came back to beat the Dodgers.
The band held Easter services Sunday night, playing an impassioned set to a sold out crowd. Although the shows were at the UIC Pavilion (a 10,000 capacity arena and one of my least favorite venues), The Arcade Fire put on one of the best shows of recent memory.
To open, The National presented "Bloodbuzz Ohio," and "Fake Empire," Arcade Fire Guitarist Richard Reed Parry helped out on a few tunes, and lead singer Win Butler even joined to sing-a-long on "Start a War."
Then, it was time for our feature presentation, as a movie maquee proclaimed: "ARCADE FIRE PRESENTS: THE SUBURBS." Beginning with "Month of May," the band took a victory lap, playing a complete setlist that featured all three acts of "Neighborhood" ("Tunnels," "Laika," and "Power Out") off their debut Funeral, the warning "Rebellion (Lies)" and deep cut "My Body is a Cage" off their tour de force Neon Bible, as well as most of this year's Grammy-award winning album of the year, The Suburbs.
Win Butler and his band burned through the set at a rate I've only seen matched by Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band, and in many ways The Arcade Fire are this generation's incarnation of the Boss. With three absolutely classic albums, there is no end to their potential.
His wife, RÃ©gine Chassagne, is the heart of the band. Running from keyboards to drums, piano to xylophone, and my favorite, the hurry gurdy, shouting along all the while, she brings an unbridled energy to an already energetic band.
Growing up in Quebec, RÃ©gine is the daughter of Haitian immigrants. Playing shows in the earthquake ravaged Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, and working with the organization Partners in Health, the band donates $1 of every ticket sold to help build a public health infrastructure. Working with The National, they also designed limited edition shirts sold at the shows to help raise funds.
Singing and dancing along with colorful streamers, RÃ©gine closed out the set with "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)" before returning for an encore featuring "Ready To Start," the driving "Keep The Car Running," and the epic anthem "Wake Up."
Leaving it all on the stage, the three night stand proved to be a moving concert experience. The reigning #1 not only maintained their title, but pulled even further away from the rest of the indie pack.
Listen to "Month of May" and "Rebellion (Lies)" from the actual show, and check out a complete photo gallery on our Facebook page.