Wednesday, May 09, 2007

neon bible bashers

If music is "my hot hot sex", as CSS say it is, then last night The Arcade Fire put on a right royal gangbang at the United Palace Theatre in New York.

They did the impossible and out-shone the majestic neo-classical architecture. No instrument was too big: RĂ©gine Chassagne tamed the church organ like a schoolgirl slaying a dragon - and no object too obscure; a football helmet was briefly a drum.

It was epic.

And that's what people have grown to expect from The Arcade Fire. Which is why it's so great that despite the seven pedestals the group members respectively stand on, they don't distance themselves from their fans. This tone was set the minute Win Butler grabbed the mic and said: "Come forward. It's not a fucking movie theatre." And come forward we did; seat numbers and social boundaries disappearing in a flash of excitement.

For the final song, Win pulled an audience member onto the stage and coaxed the rest of us to follow. They played out the song (I'm one of those people that can hum it but can't remember the titles) in a sea of fans and a few bewildered security guards.

It's not new to get the crowd on-stage, but it's nice to see a band so deified remaining connected to its audience and understanding that a show is never a one-way performance. The audience is part of the show.

Last year I saw another "big band". The Killers were playing Brixton, London. The show was flat. They played like a band that know they're big and want to keep people behind a window. It just didn't work.

I see similarities with this and the way businesses and brands behave with their audiences. The bigger they get and the more power they have, the more they can shut themselves off. But it's a mistake.
Culture is changing and there are more ways than ever for bands/brands to connect with their fans/consumers. Those that refuse to be part of a conversation and insist on building a fortress out of their success will miss out.

Here are 55 Arcade Fire fans (and counting) that will agree with me.

So I salute The Arcade Fire for understanding that the bigger you are the more people you can touch.

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