My cousin Drew shot me an email a couple months ago that he heard that Arcade Fire and The National were coming to St. Louis. It hadn’t even been officially announced yet, but I followed his trail of breadcrumbs and came to the same conclusion. Later that day the news was confirmed, tickets procured and Drew’s travel plans set into motion. Finally the day came, although the day was in question for some — Monika had purchased a ticket but thought that it was on Saturday instead of Thursday so didn’t have a flight in until the next day. Oops.
Regardless, Jen, Kim, Drew and myself trekked down to the Scottrade Center for the show. Since we originally had a party of five, we were not able to get seats all next to each other, so we split into groups: the girls and the cousins. We both had good seats; Drew and I were closer, but Jen and Kim had a better angle. Even with this minor hiccup, we were ready to rock.
First up, was The National. This was our second chance to see them this year and they were just as awesome as the first time. Matt Berninger’s deep baritone swelled to fill the arena and he took to the audience several times, once coming just a few rows from Drew and I. The ended with Terrible Love, a slow song with a stunning crescendo that set the table nicely for Arcade Fire.
After a drink, Drew and I had a conversation with a person taking donations on behalf of Kanpe, an aid organization doing rebuilding in Haiti that Arcade Fire supports. Our donations got us in a raffle for a signed set list, but we did not win. Oh well, we got some sweet buttons and supported a good cause.
Now the main event. Arcade Fire has a reputation for being a phenomenal live band and they lived up to it on this evening. Now, any 8 member band is going to have a pretty decent stage presence, but this was beyond my expectations. Situated on risers in front video screens showing scenes of suburbia, Win Butler and company cranked out almost two hours of melodic, emotional rock music, coming out of the gate firing on all cylinders with “Ready to Start,” “Rebellion (Lies)” and “Neighborhood #2 (Laika).” Butler apologized for taking so long between St. Louis appearances, noting that last time they were in the River City they were at the Rocket Bar opening for The Unicorns. Both Rocket Bar and The Unicorns went away in 2004, so it’s been a while.
The main set closed with the absolutely epic “Wake Up.” The encore was “Month of May,” “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)” and “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains).” Just an awesome way to end a great show. If you like music, you should catch an Arcade Fire show, you won’t regret it.