Arcade Fire on Olympic Island in Toronto effectively closed out this summer concert season. Our first trip to the island saw Beach House, Band of Horses, Broken Social Scene, and Pavement serenade Torontonians as we rushed between shows at NXNE and Island Fest. A few weeks later and for roughly the same ticket price – barring a donation to Partners in Health – the Sadies, Janelle Monáe and Arcade Fire welcomed us. A torrent of whispers in line for the ferry argued the value of Win Butler and company, some chastising Arcade Fire for charging such exorbitant fees while others refuting that the Canadian faces of indie were worth each penny. I believe Arcade Fire had a deeper motivation than aggrandizing their sense of self-worth: to disseminate their latest record, The Suburbs. What better way than to fill an island with well-to-do cosmopolitans and charge a price we could all too easily afford. In terms of gathering a target audience to sing-along to the “emotional hopelessness of being a privileged young person in a developed country,” as Sabrina put it, the band hit the bulls eye. But if your heart is set on seeing Arcade Fire, whether you’re there for the message or the music, it matters little if they charge ten dollars or a hundred; when it comes down to it, the band knows how to put on a fine show.

Janelle Monáe served as a curious choice for an opener as it was hard to imagine any musician on Bad Boy Records opening for a group of Québécois baroque singers. The audience received Monáe’s mix of afro-punk and hip-hop enthusiastically as her beehive-like hairstyle bobbed in harmony with each strut and shimmy. As her set wrapped up and the sun dipped lower on the city skyline a sea of black and white balloons floated through the crowd and into their untimely demise at the hands of the “Balloon Guy,” who was determined to purge the island of inflatables. Arcade Fire’s intricate set rose from the rubbery remains with a life-size projection of twisting highway serving as a backdrop for an array of floodlights.

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— , August 30, 2010    Comments Off on Arcade Fire: Olympic Island