Tag Archives: Merriweather Post Pavilion

A Look Back At Arcade Fire’s “Funeral”

I recently saw that Arcade Fire is going to be playing Merriweather Post Pavilion this August promoting their new album The Suburbs. As long as it doesn’t sell out, I will definitely be going  – plus you all know how I feel about Merriweather. Arcade Fire’s Funeral for me, is one of the defining albums of the 2000’s.  A lot of people might suggest that Death Cab For Cutie bought indie rock to the mainstream, but Arcade Fire really opened up the possibilities of what indie rock could do in the new century.  Funeral retains an indie mindset, but has the anthemic qualities of U2, Wyn Butler sings in style similar to David Bowie, yet it sounds completely original.  And 6 years after its initial release, it hasn’t lost any of its power that made it a wonderful listen the first time I heard it.

Like many people who attended U2’s Vertigo Tour in 2005, I wondered what the hell was that song that played as the band walked on the stage?  (If you went to any of those shows, you know what I’m talking about.)  It was the sound of a dozen voices singing in chant-like unison, with a simple guitar riff played underneath.  “Wake Up” is so big, ambitious, and simple, and it’s a song that has always seemed to exist.  After I found out the name of the song, I quickly went out and bought Funeral.  (Arcade Fire had been on my radar for a while, and though Funeral received fantastic reviews, I wasn’t sure about the title.)

Like many who have gone out and bought albums based on one single-song, I was afraid Funeral would be a bust.  Instead, I found an album that had a theme of loss yet retained an optimism.  For a debut album, Funeral also sounds like the third or fourth album by a band – it’s a very mature.  “Neighborhood #1” and “Rebellion (Lies)” both start off slow, but  reach a Spector-ish wall-of-sound by the end of the song.  Both songs gradually grow louder – that is it hard to pinpoint exactly when exactly what seems to be a ballad turns into a monster of a song. .  “Wake Up” might have been the song that got me into Arcade Fire, but “Rebellion” is the true masterpiece of the album.   I’m not sure if the song has a traditional verse-chorus structure. In fact its 5 minutes seem to build around Wynn singing, “everytime you close your eyes,” constrasted by Regine’s repeating, lies, lies” in the background.  But like Bowie’s “Heroes”, it’s the tension and the build-up that gives the song its ultimate pay-off.

By the time Neon Bible came out a few years later, I should have known better than to expect something as good as Funeral. Very few artists are able to create back-to-back masterpieces (and yes, I count Funeral as one of rock’s masterpieces).  But Neon Bible was not only disappointing because it wasn’t Funeral, but also because it seemed unmemorable, pretentious, and most offensively of all – bland. Arcade Fire to me, is many things but bland is not one of them.  I’m looking forward to The Suburbs, and hope Arcade Fire will bring out another masterpiece.

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U2 Tour Postponed and Summer Venues

Not that I’m wishing Bono ill, but this cancellation of the 360 Tour sucks.  I just bought tickets to the Philly show two weeks ago, and for various reasons this was going to be the first show of the year I was going to.  Usually I end up going to about 10-12 shows a year, so only having one to look forward to, and then having it cancelled is a bit of a blow.

Earlier today, I looked at other upcoming shows in the DC/Baltimore area.  I’m sure Bob Dylan is going to be touring Baseball stadiums again, so no doubt I’ll go to that.  Kings of Leon are coming to Jiffy Lube Live (what a terrible name – Nissan Pavilion wasn’t much better though), and I’m considering that too.  But that venue is a bitch.  I saw Coldplay there a few years ago, and since there is only one road to get in and out of the stadium, my friend and I missed about 20 minutes of the set even though we had left 4 hours earlier.  What should have taken an hour at the most, ended up being almost 4 hours in the car.

My absolute favorite summer-time venue is Merriweather Post Pavilion.  (And yes, that is what Animal Collective named their last album after.)  It’s easy to get to, lawn seats are cheap, and I’ve also seen some of the best shows there.  In 2008, I saw both Death Cab and R.E.M. there within two days of each other during what might have been the hottest week I can remember in recent history.  (Although seeing the Black Crowes in the summer of 07 and leaving  Sonar at midnight only to find it was still 86 degrees outside, also gets a nod.)

While I love going to concerts anytime of the year, going to concerts in the summer at an outside venue is an entirely different experience.  You get to go early and tail-gate (Merriweather is perfect for this.)  Your friends tend to have more free-time in the summer, so before you know you have about a group of 12 people coming to show.  There’s also nothing like drinking beer outside in the afternoon, listening to good music and hanging out with your friends.  This sense of being part of a community of music and people is about as close I’ll come to be a hippie.  And whether you like pot or not, there’s also something comforting in seeing a haze of pot smoke hanging over the audience.

So what are your favorite summer venues?  And any suggestions for good summer concerts?

(Iron & Wine last summer at Merriweather.  The date is wrong, it was sometime in August.)

(Me at the same show.)


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