Reflektour’s Opening Night was a spectacle to behold.
It is rare that indie-rock produces a band that is capable of playing - and making money on - an arena tour. What is even more rare is for that band to keep their artistic integrity and creating dynamic and interesting music that spans genres without ever feeling insincere. I’ll be honest, Reflektor was not my favorite Arcade Fire record; it probably falls behind their other three records in my opinion, but calling it my least favorite feels wrong - i like it, i just don’t love it; however, seeing an Arcade Fire arena show - especially with their inclination towards performance art and surprise - is a must-see. The tour kicked off in Lousiville’s KFC Yum! center, and it was as epic as you’d expect.
Thousands of costumed individuals from the age of 5 to 70 piled into Louisville’s basketball stadium for the event; the crowd looked like a mix between a circus and soiree. The show started on a risen small stage towards the back of the arena - confusing the couple-hundred waiting in front on the large stage on the other side - with a barebones camp-fire version of “My Body is a Cage” which reminded me just how fantastic Win Butler’s voice really is. Then, applying the perfect amount a shock-value, a curtain dropped on the big stage exposing the rest of the band who had already exploded into their funky single ‘Reflektor.’ In an act of true magic, the small-stage members appeared on the big stage in a blink of an eye to concoct their biggest hit yet. The show was jam-packed with highlights, one of my favorites being a gorgeous performance of “The Suburbs” prefaced by some witty commentary from Win Butler: "This is a fitting song to play in a building named after five fast food restaurants" The intimate title-track became a sing-along; the solidarity felt pretty surreal in such a large venue.
The midriff of the band’s catalog seemed to translate best in the arena setting, with ‘Ready to Start,’ ‘Keep the Car Running’ and ‘No Cars Go’ being three of the principal tracks in the set. The Reflektor tracks seemed clumsy at times, with just a little bit too much going on at once, but the live performance will evolve and mature over time I’m sure; despite that, ‘Afterlife’ provided a highlight due to it’s eccentric stage-tricks - the track featured a human disco ball, which sounds like a Stephan joke from SNL but is, in fact, real - and really cool. It’s like that thing of where a person is covered completely in shards of reflective disco-ball glass and spins, reflecting light to the tempo of the song.
Almost immediately after the regular set ended, a bobble-headed 4 piece band rose from the small stage playing “Controversy” by Prince and announcing themselves as the Reflektors. Their “set” was cut short by a returning Arcade Fire on the large stage. The group really shined in their encore, playing ‘Normal Person,’ ‘Rebellion (Lies),’ and ‘The Last Time’ (A FUCKING ROLLING STONES COVER). With the entire band waving, I thought for sure their encore was finished after a satisfying three-track triumph, but was mistaken. What followed was Arcade Fire’s brilliant climax: the Reflektor track ‘Here Comes the Night Time’ shimmered with danceable indie-rock glory. That easily could have been the closing track, but the ten-piece treated the crowd to the jubilant fan-favorite “Wake Up” as they were camouflaged in vibrant confetti. Arcade Fire’s music solidifies them as an indie-rock mainstay, but their live performance cements them as innovators of performance art and exuberance.
Can’t wait to see them in Montreal.