Have Arcade Fire’s American Fans Abandoned Them?
Arcade Fire are reportedly facing a fan backlash in the aftermath of releasing latest album Everything Now. According to the Globe And Mail, the band’s current tour has seen them playing to unfilled venues, with some shows appearing to have drawn less than half the number that attended on previous occasions.
“Arcade Fire is struggling to fill arenas on its North American tour,” the publication reported. “Just 4263 fans showed up for the Canadian band’s Quebec City show, 4004 in Tampa, 5614 in Austin, Tex., and 5051 in Dallas.” The figures came from Billboard’s Boxscore, and data also revealed that while 5739 people attended their Ottawa show, 9798 had attended in 2014.
Each of the venues named have official capacities of between 10,000 and 20,000, meaning that certain parts were closed off to concentrate the people who did attend. Frontman Win Butler referred to the situation on stage in Vancouver, telling the 15,000-strong crowd: “We’ve played cities three times as big with half as many people, so this is really a thing of beauty for us.”
The Globe and Mail speculated that several issues could be in play, including a general downturn in ticket sales and interest in rock music – but principally blamed Everything Now reviews, which was “widely panned by critics.” The report added: “The marketing campaign to go along with it, which riffed off the album’s exploration of consumerism and infinite content in the age of social media, was met with some disdain as well.”
However, Kevin Morrow, a former president of tour promoter Live Nation, argued that Arcade Fire’s in-the-round concert set required larger venues as a matter of course, and that relatively low attendance didn’t mean the band were losing money on the road.
Accepting that the band could still be turning a profit while playing to half-empty spaces, economics professor Pascal Courty said: “It’s better to start with a small venue and add a show than have a big venue you can’t fill. But on the other hand, you don’t want to be in the situation they are in.”
The band’s Nov. 4 show at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto was reported to be a sell-out, with The Star saying: “Arcade Fire gets to play arenas these days because Arcade Fire was meant to play arenas.” Meanwhile, NWITimes.com described their Oct. 30 Chicago show as a “knockout,” adding: “The band continues to reinvent themselves and shows no signs of slowing.” Their next tour dates take place in South America, starting on Nov. 29, before U.K. and European shows to follow.