Saturday night, the Arcade Fire (Friday, May 6, 5:35 p.m.) headlined Coachella. It was the band’s first time headlining a major festival, and by all accounts, it was a major success. According to William Goldman at Spin.com:
On the sexy-tropical jam “Haiti,” Chassagne waltzed and twirled in her gold-sequined dress. The song holds special meaning for the band: [co-founder Régine] Chassagne is of Haitian ancestry, and Arcade Fire have been raising money for the broken nation since the earthquake of January 2010. Butler urged the crowd to donate money to the cause. “It’ll be like a birthday present,” he said, explaining that he had just turned 31.
Coachella came to party, though, and Arcade Fire knew it. “That was the peaceful and thoughtful portion of the show,” Butler said, “now let’s do something!”
And with that the nine-piece band kicked into the frantic “Neighborhood #3” then “Keep the Car Runnin’,” reminding some 60,000 festivalgoers why the recent Grammy winners have become one of rock’s most amazing live acts.
According to RollingStone.com‘s Steve Appleford:
The band’s night-closing show was another peak in a year when they won a Grammy for Album of the Year for The Suburbs. Looking like a small orchestra of guitars, strings, percussion and keyboards on the big stage, the band delivered a performance that was soaring, theatrical and emotional–from the new album’s aching title song the band’s epic signature, “Wake Up.”
The Los Angeles Times‘ Margaret Wappler wrote:
Part of Arcade Fire’s force is its unstoppable sense of movement, not only musically but also physically. It seems that someone onstage is always running or leaping or grabbing a drum and pounding something out. Outfitted in her ice-skater garb, Régine Chassagne often danced like a puppet who’d just had her strings cut, when she wasn’t jumping onto the drums. For “Keep the Car Running,” one note was needled over and over again but so much swirled around it that it was a pulse in the darkness, a North Star for the weary.
Here’s footage of the set closer, “Wake Up.” I expect the song will be in the set list at Jazz Fest, minus the cool balloons:
Here they are performing “Ready to Start” as an encore (after a minute of audience cheering).
For Arcade Fire fans, here’s the setlist:
Month of May
No Cars Go
City With No Children
The Suburbs (Continued)
Crown of Love
Neighborhood #2 (Laika)
We Used to Wait
Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)
Keep the Car Running
Ready to Start
Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
At Coachella, Mumford and Sons (Friday, Apr. 29, Gentilly Stage, 3:25 p.m.) performed as well. August Brown wrote for the Los Angeles Times:
Mumford & Sons, while clearly indebted to old-time revivalist peers like the Incredible String Band, are also just as attuned to the big crescendos of alternative rock and the throat-shredding acoustic-emo of bands like Bright Eyes (who, fittingly, played just before them). The result is a sturdy batch of songs that sound like something your great-grandparents would listen to, but which act like the drive time fare of KROQ (where the band’s singles are in constant and often pleasantly jarring rotation).
Take, for instance, crowd favorite “Little Lion Man,” a self-lacerating lover’s plea that doesn’t even really get its sea legs until after the first chorus. But then, its double-time gallop and always-fun-to-sing profane chorus hits a rare (maybe unprecedented) sweet spot between the kind of kids who swear by pre-Illinois Sufjan Stevens and the dudes who put on Under The Table & Dreaming when taking that cute Pi Phi back to their dorm. In other words—credibility plus accessibility plus a funny interplay between orthodoxy and adventurousness equals a huge out-of-left-field success story.
With the added juice of a three-piece horn section, the songs took on a regal, almost religious quality. Mumford’s sound draws from very old music, but plays by the rules of today’s rock bands. And by the time they closed with “The Cave,” the song they played at this year’s Grammys just before backing Bob Dylan, every kind of voice was raised to sing a chorus about a lover choking to death. Unexpected, but totally natural in the end.
Here is RollingStone.com‘s interview with Mumford & Sons:
Mumford & Sons faced one of the night’s biggest crowds of the night. They layered acoustic guitar, banjo and a brass section on “Winter Winds,” a song of faith and heartbreak, while “The Cave” a became a huge singalong for much of the crowd, connecting on a massive landscape that few venues beyond Coachella can provide.