Arcade Fire as the Reflektors
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Better Than: Catching your favorite indie-band-made-big in some giant auditorium.
Arcade Fire first hit the scene, changing the sound of indie music forever, back in the early 2000s. Musical force Régine Chassagne is a first-generation Haitian emigrant, and apparently, she and co-founding husband Win Butler are totally in love with Little Haiti, but in all this time, they've never made it to Miami.
All that changed last night when this little band called the Reflektors came through Mekka (of all places), but we all knew who that really was.
We arrived at 8 p.m., which seemed nice and early to us. Doors were just opening and the line to get in to Mekka wound around the building. A little stand was set up for free face painting, but you had to choose one of about five band-approved designs. Apparently, we were all to be a part of some video-filming shenanigans. Excite! We here at Crossfade got the cool, retro-future eye-stripe of badassery.
Over the years, there have been a lot of less than savory things said about Mekka. Still, the venue was kind of perfect. The crowd huddled inside one small room, underneath about ten or so shiny disco balls of varying sizes. Something like 20 guitars lined the side of the stage. Everyone was lookin' fresh in the most creative display of DIY Halloween costumes we'll probably see this season. Arcade Fire fans don't fuck around with their DIY.
By 9:30 p.m., we'd had just enough time to finish two drinks to a soundtrack of eclectic jams (Michael Jackson, Canned Heat, Fela Kuti) before the lights dimmed and the band finally took the stage. The place went wild as Rég bounced out from backstage, followed by the rest of the crew and her husband Win, who took to the mic.
"Buenas noches, sak pase, bonsoir," Win said. "I heard you guys could dance!"
Leading the crowd in a clap session, he, Régine, and the band kicked into their new album's title track "Reflektor." They looked and sounded amazing. With something like ten members on the stage, they had a huge percussion section, complete with steel drums on certain tracks, an elaborate key setup, guitars, drums, bongos, and the kind of dedication to their craft you just don't see too much of anymore.
Régine is amazing. She runs around the stage in a total performance-artist trance, dancing around like a bird or a flower-haired hippie, flitting from instrument to instrument and staging moments of fun absurdity with the crowd.
Win, meanwhile, had on the best coat ever, of course, with lots of colorful stripes and shapes stuck on it. He'd roar into the mic and come out over the crowd to great applause, and no matter how much we sweated, he never did take that coat off.
"Gracias," Win would say after every couple of songs. During the third track, "We Exist," we were lead in a series of funny dance moves by one Ms. Skeleton, and we figure this was the filming part of the evening, though nothing was particularly explained.
"We're the Reflektors. We're from Montreal," he continued in earnest. "This is our first time playing in Miami. It's our first time playing in Florida, but in reality, Miami is Florida." The place was pretty stoked on this last bit, so we got down hard for the filming, or at least tried to in the tight space in front of the stage.
They ripped through song after song, the fans singing along here and there, sometimes jumping up and down, sometimes throwing their hands in the sky, sometimes flashing their cameras. It was an incredible opportunity to see this Grammy-winning band in the type of setting that, more than likely, they won't get the chance to play too much anymore. You could really get up close and see how seriously Win, Régine, and the rest of the crew take their music. It transports them as much as the audience. Give them more Grammys, they deserve it.
They changed guitars between, like, every song, hence the whole wall of them. Win played to the Miami culture by reciting the chorus of Gloria Estefan's "Conga" in poem form. They dedicated their new song "Afterlife" to the Haitian and Jamaican people who passed in the recent boat capsizing off the coast of Miami. They just kept talking about how much they love us.
"We are so extremely happy to be here," Win said. "Thanks for coming out. We'll be in Little Haiti tomorrow. I'm so jealous that you have Little Haiti, it's one of the most beautiful places in America."
They played for about an hour and a half, one time alluding to their real band name before playing "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)," being all "this is a song by a band called Arcade Fire from Montreal. A bunch of twats." It was adorbs.
But as Win said, "all beautiful things must come to an end," and he riled the crowd up for their last song of the set, "Here Comes the Night Time." He took a stick and handed it to crowd members one at a time. Blindfolded, they struck out against a giant iPhone piñata, and after a few failed attempts to break it, Win busted it open himself. Confetti flew everywhere as the energy peaked.
When Win, Régine, and the rest of the crew let their last few notes ring out into Mekka's smoky air, they threw kisses into the sky and slowly made their way off the stage. One of the percussionists came to the mic and said, quite honestly, "Thank you. This has been really awesome. Sorry it took us so long to get here." Pshh, that's what they all say.
Of course, we demanded an encore, and we got one more song out of the band. Fittingly, it was "Haiti," and they dedicated it to the Haitian community. Afterward, it was really the end of the set, but it wasn't the end of the night. Win went into another one of Mekka's rooms to throw down a funky, eclectic set of dance tunes, from the aforementioned Fela Kuti to more Michael Jackson, even Technotronic. He DJed with some sort of weird bag on his head. Look, it didn't have to make sense. Dude can do what he wants.
We left for bed sometime around midnight, stoked as all hell that we actually had the chance to experience an intimate set from what will probably be one of the most important bands of their generation. We can only imagine how sick-rad-awesome-sauce the Little Haiti show will be.
Three cheers for the Reflektors, our new favorite band from Montreal.
Arcade Fire's Setlist
-"Joan of Arc"
-"It's Never Over (Oh Orpheus)"
-"You Already Know"
-"Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)"
-"Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)"
-"Here Comes the Night Time"
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Follow Kat Bein on Twitter @KatSaysKill.