After topping the Billboard album chart and selling out two shows at Madison Square Garden, an irresistible David-and-Goliath story emerged (they beat Eminem on the chart though he’d been there for weeks) not just about Arcade Fire but also the indie label that they’re on. But how much of a win is it really for Arcade Fire and Merge Records and where do each of them go from here?
When I first heard Arcade Fire’s 2004 debut Funeral, I thought that leader Win Butler’s voice was a pretty repulsive whine, the same type that made me vomit over the Shins in the early ‘00’s. But just as got over (and actually enjoyed) James Mercer’s pipes, Arcade Fire’s songs swept over me and I got the point—the drama in Butler’s voice matched the melodrama of the tunes. But then I sunk on ‘em again after seeing them at Bowery Ballroom five months after the album came out. They got there a few hours late after taping for a late night TV show and they looked and sounded tired. Several times, Butler chided the audience for not showing enthusiasm and I was ready to yell ‘right back at ya!’ By the time they were finishing up, streams of people were already leaving and not with big warm smiles on their faces (in fairness, a friend who was in the balcony said that people up there were loving it).