Arcade Fire steps into the ring at the Pacific Coliseum

Arcade Fire with Phantogram at the Pacific Coliseum, 10/14/17

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Photo by Ryan Johnson

Arcade Fire packed a punch on Saturday night (Oct. 14) with their Infinite Content world tour at the Pacific Coliseum. The tour is showcasing their newest album, Everything Now. Walking into the stadium, fans felt like they were at a boxing match not a concert. A boxing ring took the place of a traditional stage which provided a 360° experience for fans. The first contenders of Saturday’s show were New York duo, Phantogram. Phantogram gets their name from an optical illusion when a two dimensional image appears to be three. Their sound is exactly that, so complete and energetic that it gives off the illusion that it is created by a full band not a two-piece.

The packed coliseum restlessly squirmed in their seats waiting in anticipation for the Muhammad Ali of Canadian Indie Rock to step onto the ring. Lights out, a buzz in the air, then the louder speaker announced “ Ladies and gentlemen, in the left corner with a Grammy award for Album Of The Year in 2011 and a Juno award for Alternative Album Of The Year in 2014, may I introduce to you Arcade Fire.”  With a surge of energy the whole band jogged up to the stage, ducked under the rope and frontman, Win Butler’s first punch was “Everything Now.”

Leaving no time to recover from the electric opening, they struck the crowd with “Rebellion Lies” and it was a hit straight to the heart.  It is a song that despite being released over a decade ago still had audience members singing along with every word. The drummer, Jeremy Gara was too exhilarated to be kept in the confines of the ring and ducked under the rope and started racing around the stage.

Arcade Fire @ Pacific Coliseum
Photo by Ryan Johnson

As a Canadian band there was a feeling of hometown pride at the show. Butler commented on their first time touring in Canada saying “When we were first starting out it took us a year to get to play here in Vancouver and we played our first show at The Commodore Ballroom.”  Already pulling at each audience member’s heart strings, the lights went out and they bewitched with “Neon Bible.” A sea of phone lights transformed Pacific Coliseum into an enchanting, starry night sky. One of Vancouver’s biggest venues had never felt so intimate.

The Montreal-based band was just a group of high school kids who were close friends and liked to make music together. Butler talked about being a kid and growing up feeling disjointed with your surroundings. He introduced “The Suburbs” by saying, “This song goes out to everyone who was born somewhere and they don’t know why.” Butler’s voice was almost drowned out by a packed house belting out “Sometimes I can’t believe it, I’m moving past the feeling.” Vancouver is a city where everyone comes from somewhere else and Arcade Fire brought us back to those places, the home you did not choose but is still your home.

Arcade Fire does incredible things on and off the stage.  A dollar of each ticket sold goes to Kanpe, the charity Régine Chassagne (vocalist, accordion/keys player) co-founded to support issues in Haiti.

At the end of the show Arcade Fire came back for a knockout encore. Starting with “We Don’t Deserve Love” then fading into “Wake Up,” fans held the shoulder of their neighbour and belted “Children, wake up. Hold your mistake up before they turn the summer into dust.” Nostalgic shivers went up the spines of everyone in the house. Remembering the first time they ripped the plastic off their brand new, shiny Funeral album, slipped it into their CD player and were instantly infatuated. Thirteen years later fans got to hear the songs that got them through break-ups, songs they danced to at parties and songs they listened to at parks with friends late at night. Arcade Fire performed a moving show that brought 2000 strangers together for one enchanting night.