Saturday, June 11, 2011


At the end of 2011, Arcade Fire will have accomplished the never-before-accomplished feat (we're pretty sure) of headlining, in the matter of one year and two months, America's Big Four music festivals: Lollapalooza last summer, Coachella this past spring, nowBonnaroo on Friday night and Austin City Limits this coming October, with each festival entertaining at least 70,000 people. With three down, America's -- and Canada's and possibly the world's -- new favorite band prove they are worthy of holding such a crown.

"Everyone having a good time so far?" the band's frontman Win Butler asked the 2011 Bonnaroo crowd from the main stage Friday (June 10) night. "Any festival where you can see My Morning Jacket and then Lil Wayne is good with me," he said pointing out the fest's oddly diverse lineup this year, before the band started 'No Cars Go,' a song from their second album, 'Neon Bible.'

Arcade Fire played new songs like 'Rococo' and the encore 'Sprawl II' off their latest award-wining album 'The Suburbs.' "This is a summertime song," Butler announced before the zigzag guitar chords of another newbie, 'City With No Children.' "This is a song about places very dear to our heart and s--- is very f---ed up there, but they are carrying on," he said, hyping up the old classic tune 'Haiti,' off their debut album 'Funeral.' He also plugged Partners in Health, a non-profit that provides medical aid to the earthquake-devastated country of the song's namesake.

Throughout the entire evening, the Montreal-based eight-piece performed rock songs suitable for a 100-piece symphony. Members played without a pause; even when frontwoman Regine Chassagne put down her accordion duties, she was still howling backup vocals or jumping from a handheld shaker to a piano. Drummer Will Butler ran around with his tom-tom, jumping from the stage into the audience at one point, like a rock 'n' roll Evel Knieval. While everyone sweats at Bonnaroo -- day temperatures flirted with heat indexes in the 100s on Friday -- Arcade Fire seemed to sweet the hardest sweat, because they played the hardest.

"My brother and I grew up in Houston," Butler told the Bonnaroo crowd. "And it's nice to feel humidity. Drink plenty of water. Trust me, it's nice. It's pretty cold where we live." Before a powerful medley of songs that included 'Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)' and 'Rebellion (Lies)' Butler called out the audience: 'Alright, you f---ing hippies! Let's do it!" and went punk rock on the new track 'Month of May.'

"We wrote this song for a room of 20 people," Butler said before one of the encore tracks and fan favorite 'Wake Up.' "So playing it for a giant field has taken some getting use to." While their set didn't top their Coachella performance from a few months back, Arcade Fire still delivered a set that the crowd afterward called nothing short of epic.

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