Arcade Fire in Brooklyn: Indie Superstars Preview ‘Reflektor,’ Start Anew With Funky Jams
And the award for best new band at CMJ 2013 goes to ... the Reflektors. This dozen-strong art-disco ensemble managed to fill the giant warehouse space at 299 Meserole Street in Bushwick, Brooklyn, on two consecutive nights, and they even convinced fans to follow a mandatory dress code of formalwear or costumes. Most folks opted for both, and last night (Oct. 19), there were masquerade masks and blazers as far as the eye could see.
"Everyone says you're so standoffish," the oafishly grooving lead singer told the audience. "But you've been really sweet."
Of course, it was all a charade, and as everyone in the world -- including your mother and the breakdancers on the L train -- knows, the band that ruled Brooklyn these last couple of nights, completely overshadowing CMJ and whatever else might have grabbed the attention of the borough's legions of indie rock enthusiasts, was actually the Arcade Fire, and that iffy mover up front was Win Butler. Reflektors is a reference to the forthcoming 'Reflektor,' an album whose lead single was produced by James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, and that features a cameo from David Bowie. Scrappy upstarts? Hardly.
But in their own way, Arcade Fire are clawing their way back. It's been three years since Montreal's finest dropped 'The Suburbs,' their Grammy-winning breakout, and having taken ponderous, chest-beating stadium rock to its artistic limits, the band had to figure out a new place to go. They wound up on the dance floor, and Saturday's set -- composed almost entirely of 'Reflektor' songs -- was a dance party, plain and simple. Tunes like opener 'Reflektor,' the 'Billie Jean'-ish 'We Exist' and the glammy thudder 'Joan of Arc' -- what a funkier Kiss would have made circa 'Lick It Up' -- were dazzling and ambitious and well worth the chafing that comes with tying a piece of dollar-shop plastic to your face for an hour.
That picture above isn't a watercolor rendering. There was barely room to move from beer queue to bathroom line, let alone set up an easel. It's the best the iPhone could do on full zoom from as close as any reasonable 30-something in a suit was willing to get. The iPhone is a genius device, but to borrow a phrase from Disclosure, when the Fire stars to burn, and it starts to spread, they gonna bring that attitude home, and that means you're only going to get a bright and blurry impression -- a little reflection of the spectacle burned into your brain.