Saturday, September 04, 2010

From The Sea To The Suburbs

As of this month, it's been three years since I saw Modest Mouse and Arcade Fire back in Utah, only not at the same time. I've been a Modest Mouse fan for ages, and seeing Arcade Fire live made me into a fan. So there was no way I was going to pass up a festival where they were dual headliners, especially in a city as close as Bologna, which was only three hours away by train.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
I got to the festival grounds late in the afternoon, just in time to see Fanfarlo, a British indie-pop band with whom I wasn't familiar, but had quite an Italian following. What they lacked in originality, they made up in talent and catchy tunes. They blended well, and I'm considering buying their album.

Modest Mouse
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
By the end of Fanfarlo, I had established a great spot in the crowd--close enough to where I could see the band clearly, but far enough for me to take in the whole stage, which was ideal as Modest Mouse is such a wonderful ensemble. Isaac Brock has such a unique voice that perfectly complements the band's sound. When they walked on stage and began with "Dashboard," I was transported back to 2007 when that song was my anthem. They played for 90 minutes, concentrating on material from their last two LPs, but strangely omitted everything from their 2009 EP "No One's First And You're Next." Their extra-long version of "Spitting Venom" was spectacular, and the whole crowd sang along with "Float On."

Arcade Fire
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
When Arcade Fire finally emerged, the stage was decorated with highways and billboards, setting the mood for their newest album "The Suburbs," a record about the alienation of growing up in such an environment. They began with "Ready To Start" with everyone in the crowd singing along with every word.
The first time I saw them, I didn't really know what to expect, and was totally blown away. This time, I was expecting greatness, and was still blown away. It must be exhausting for such a huge band to perform on stage every night with such passion. You can hear the pain in Win Butler's voice as he talks about fleeting youth and lost dreams. And I swear I could see tears in Regine Chassagne's eyes as she sang about her homeland on "Haiti."
Obviously, the bulk of the setlist was from the new record, with songs like "Suburban War" and "We Used To Wait" even getting me a little choked up. But it wouldn't be an Arcade Fire show without the rousing chorus of "Wake Up" or the uplifting "No Cars Go," and they didn't disappoint. So many of their songs are very personal to me, not only because of what they talk about or represent, but also because in the past few years, they've been the soundtrack to some very difficult times in my life, and if they would have played "Ocean Of Noise," I would have totally lost it. Still, I was hoping for longer than a 90 minute set, and "City With No Children" would have capped of the evening nicely.
Regardless, Arcade Fire is, no doubt, one of the best bands working today, and arguably the best live act around right now. Each member is a talented multi-instrumentalist, and what they stand for really comes through in their performance. If you ever get the chance to see them, don't miss it.

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