Arcade Fire showcased new music at secret gig!

Chelsea Brasted reports Arcade Fire last night for friends and friends of friends previewed new music at a secret gig at Second Line Stages in New Orleans where no phones were allowed in. The new music is described as being “dynamic, danceable rock. With a sharp focus on heavy topics like religion and social and media pressures with percussive-heavy beats and an occasional flavor of disco”. Yes, please! What I wouldn’t have done to be there! Read the full report below.

Chelsea Brasted, | The Times-Picayune

Despite the across-town thumping and raging of the music festival Arcade Fire are due to headline for its closing night, frontman Win Butler had other things on his mind Saturday (Oct. 29). Namely, a bottle of red wine, a sleeve of plastic cups and efforts to quietly mingle his way through groups of friends, friends-of-friends and new faces with ears eager to hear what his band has been cooking up in the three years since their last album.

By the end of his night, no one was disappointed.

Arcade Fire took over an empty space at Secondline Stages in New Orleans and transformed it into a proving grounds for the night to showcase what seemed to be its newest project. Performing in front of an audience of about 175 Halloween costumed fans, the Montreal-based group unleashed a storm of dynamic, danceable rock. With a sharp focus on heavy topics like religion and social and media pressures with percussive-heavy beats and an occasional flavor of disco, Arcade Fire found new music they are ready and eager to share with larger crowds.

The latest news, however, is that the new album isn’t due until the spring of 2017 — and that’s old information as it is. Band-member Will Butler teased its release during a Reddit AMA over the summer, noting even then that the time-frame was speculative.

In all, though, the Saturday surprise was a beautiful night born out of opportunity and luck for the few gathered there, who shared in one of the band’s handful of performances scheduled this year. It appeared that, for many, the chance to be in the audience — which included a handful of local musicians — involved the story of a vague email or Facebook message from a friend. Many seemed to unexpectedly recognize other friends in the audience as they shared a glance and then hugs.

“I feel like I keep getting presents,” laughed one woman as she experienced the night’s offerings.

Attendees were told little more than to arrive at Secondline at 9 p.m., where cell phones were confiscated at the door. Once inside, bartenders served mixed cocktails under a haze from fog machines. White spider webs stretched across orange strings of lights, which met at a rotating disco ball overhead. Below, Butler oversaw DJ duties as he and fellow band-members poured his guests cups of wine. About a third of the room was taken over by the performing space, a formal set-up of Arcade Fire’s massive collection of road gear and instruments: Violins, guitars, basses, keyboards, two full drum kits, a row of mic stands and a steel drum were among the necessary items assembled.

First came a warm-up from the Pinettes Brass Band before Arcade Fire took their places. What followed then was a trip through a set list of 14 old and new songs, some of which were fresh enough to prompt Butler to keep a music stand with lyric sheets nearby. But then there was also a medley with the “Ghostbusters” theme song and Butler ad libbed about a clown living in a tower in the sky. His wife, fellow band-member and multi-instrumentalist Regine Chassagne, looked on with a smile and a shake of her head.

“Thank you all for being here,” Butler said, the only recognition of the night’s special meaning. He and Chassagne, who have lived in New Orleans at least part time since Arcade Fire’s much lauded 2013 release, “Reflektor,” have quietly become part of the city’s fabric even as they seem to explore their infatuation with it. Their most notable exploit involved a memorial second-line for David Bowie, drawing thousands to a French Quarter tribute for the British musician earlier this year.

Finally on Saturday, the sweaty, smiling members of Arcade Fire wrapped up and stepped out from behind their instruments, joining, again, the small crowd of friends who were just happy to be there.

They’ll next perform in front of a larger audience thanks to a headlining, closing set at Voodoo Fest on Sunday. Arcade Fire is due to take the Altar Stage at 7:30 p.m.

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