(Maybe the) Best Live Show I Ever Saw

I think the social distancing/shelter at home phenomenon has me thinking a lot about things you can do in large groups of people…

A couple of days ago, my son (he’s a freshman Music Composition major at the University of North Texas – proud father moment and has some relevance to the following) mentioned that one of his favorite podcasts, Your Favorite Band Sucks, had just posted a new episode featuring Arcade Fire. I think the title of the podcast says it all in terms of the treatment that can be assumed for any band falling into their cross hairs.

My son truly enjoys and listens to a very wide swath of music. To do what he intends to do with his life, he must. However, there are a few things for which he does not care, or within which he has very specific tastes. Commercially popular country music of the last two to three decades (really, who can blame him on that – he may have had some help from an early age on forming that opinion). Most of the music of the ’90’s (having not lived through it, I think he may allow nu metal, pop punk and the overly whiny shoegaze bands to influence his opinion on that too much). And this third thing is my interpretation, but pertinent to this post – bands that have too much pretense or take themselves too seriously without a relevant reason to do so or to the detriment of the actual music made. To wit, The Red Headed Stranger is a great concept album and worthy of a Broadway adaptation. American Idiot is not.

That last reason is why I think he was happy to hear Arcade Fire would be skewered on Your Favorite Band Sucks.

By no means am I an Arcade Fire fan. Last I saw or listened to them they were on SNL promoting their Reflektor album in 2013. As can be the case, where a band starts and where they progress to tends to be divisive. Of their work, there are two albums I enjoy. Reflektor was not one of them, and I lost interest.

But I was lucky enough to see them live at the Stubb’s BBQ Waller Creek Amphitheater in Austin, TX in 2005 as they toured on their first album, Funeral. That album is in my top 10 favorites of all time. The pure energy and joy of their performance was everything you would want from a show. Back then, there was no pretense, no concept to thrust ahead of the music, no slick production. It was an intimate outdoor venue on a lovely Central Texas evening. The music and their performance was enough. Just a group of people come together enjoying themselves which translated to an audience that was joyous.

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