Non-Review - April 9: Arcade Fire

Since neither I nor my dear friend Kellen O'Brien were able to attend last week's Arcade Fire show, Kellen has written an essay to mitigate that concert-misser's sadness. Here it is. Enjoy.

The Thing About Missing a Concert
by Kellen O'Brien

Sometimes a drive is too daunting. Most Colorado natives have neglected a January
drive on I-70 to avoid the possibility of a three-hour traffic jam. That doesn’t mean
that a lot of other people decided it was worth it and were rewarded for their

At Friday night kickball, there was some talk about the Arcade Fire/Local Natives
show at FirstBank Center: a party bus, reservations, excitement, and nostalgia.

By the time the game had ended, with my team Slow Kick in the Grass posting
another decisive victory, I had decided without reservation not to attend the show.
My decision came down to three factors, bill, necessity, and logistics.


Traditional two band pairings do not come much richer than Arcade Fire and Local
Natives. As indie’s torchbearer, Arcade Fire can pull from three unique and two
deep albums. “Wake Up” is a fantastic climax to any celebration. Although there may
exist an undercurrent of credibility pushback, Arcade Fire is certainly a dependable
pillar. Local Natives, meanwhile, put out one of last year’s finest first releases.
Guerilla Manor can be played in its duration without the slightest risk of dead spot
lag. The album certainly seems like the first of many, and the band finds itself in
good company also. For me, they bring to mind Band of Horses, Fleet Foxes, and My
Morning Jacket. But instead of being from Portland, Seattle, or Louisville, they are
from Silverlake.

Ultimately, this might be one of the strongest pairings currently on tour or
announced for summer glory. Although Arcade Fire may be more consistent in a
live setting, Local Natives will at some point develop their live sound in a way that
eclipses their vinyl worthiness.


I’ve seen both bands in the last calendar year, and this certainly played a big part in
my non-interest. I remember, during last year’s Pitchfork Music Festival, my step-
sister and I made a desperate, dramatic push from the suburbs to Union Park to
catch the beginning of Local Natives. They were, unfairly for us, playing an early
afternoon set. The set did not lack goodness, but the early time slot deprived the
crowd of momentum necessary to engage fully in the undertaking.

Not to mention, I feel certain that I will have many more chances to see Local

Arcade Fire is in the same boat. I saw them on this tour’s first United States date
back in Boston. I’m sure their live show has become a finely tuned machine, but they
weren’t shabby on that late summer day.

Not to mention, I will see them with Mumford and Sons in London in June. Mumford
is one of the few new bands I would wish to open for Arcade Fire over Local Natives,
and their live chops are already humming. Ultimately, I had to decide if seeing
Arcade Fire three times in a year is too much.

I’m sure there are fanatics out there that would say there is no number too high, but
Arcade Fire isn’t in my top five even though Suburbs is stellar.


Am I the only one that thinks the Red Rocks season could start much earlier? Maybe,
they have tried this out before, but what is wrong with a mid-April show? Everyone
buying tickets would know of, and account for, the obvious risks. The shows would
have to be carefully vetted, but I think this show would have carried Red Rocks. Who
doesn’t like wearing a hoodie. I mean, seriously?

I like the concept of the FirstBank Center. The discussion went something like
this: “Let’s put a fairly large venue in between Denver and Boulder. It will be
awesome. Promoters won’t have to deceive themselves that Katy Perry can fill the
Pepsi Center. And like, cops will be able to make many many DUI arrests. Great!?”

The way I figure it, if you are going to a show like this, you are going in a sizable
group. This means that there will likely be a sizable amount of partying. So, who
stays sober? Not me.

Obviously, the party bus idea works, but that can become quite expensive, and
doesn’t exactly ease up on the logistics issue. I had friends with a party bus at MGMT
last summer, and not only did people never find the party bus after the show, but
several members of the group ended up with hypothermia. Not exactly failsafe. If
I drive my car, it will mean someone I am with volunteers to drive back, because I
have no interest in making that drive even if I’m street legal. That would entail, both
major self-control and an aversion to excess. Not my strong suits.

Ultimately, if a show becomes too much work, it makes me not want to go. I have
yet to see a show at FirstBank, maybe I will someday, but if Arcade Fire and Local
Natives didn’t entice me, I’m not quite sure what will.


  1. Easy, Party HEAVY, Cheap, and supporting a good cause! Your new way to get to almost ANY show in CO! http://bustoshow.org/ YEAH!