I'm reading a good book about the L.A. punk scene at the moment (We Got the Neutron Bomb). It prompted me to listen to Berlin Brats for probably the first time since high school, so I'll make "Tropically Hot" the SOW. It's a shame that they often get written off as a New York Dolls copycat. They are great in their own right:
On Sunday night I headed out in my finest (read: banana suit) to see Arcade Fire at the Verizon Center. All the people who didn’t dress up with the suggested formal wear/costume dress code? You are no fun.
Antibalas opened with their politically charged afrobeat and was decidedly meh. Dan Deacon was better, even though I don’t like his music. Why? Because he was 1) hilarious and 2) succeeded in getting an arena full of people to dance in hilarious and entertaining ways. First, he created a giant circle on the floor for a dance contest and lambasted the idiot with a Miller Lite who refused to leave the circle. This was a good start. Next he selected two people from the crowd to lead their half of the arena in a Simon Says style interpretive dance. Then he had everyone do a wall of death mosh pit but with high fives instead of just running into each other. This made for fabulous people watching. My favorite moment was when someone dressed as a mime entered the dance contest and just did mime stuff for a minute.
A few minutes after the wall of high fives, a man in a mirrored suit (a walking disco ball of sorts) appeared in the middle of the arena to introduce Arcade Fire, who launched into “Afterlife” with an a gaggle of 13 people on stage. A few songs in they busted out a rousing rendition of (my favorite) “Rebellion (Lies)” which was awesome but seemed too soon, then did “Joan of Arc.” By the time the mid-set rendition of “The Suburbs” rolled around, I had moved down to a better seat to escape the idiots behind me who 1) wouldn’t stop talking, 2) kept saying “I don’t know any of these songs!” (HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?), and 3) would occasionally shout “Why is everyone dressed up?”
Now in a much happier place, I enjoyed “Ready to Start” “No Cars Go” and “We Exist” surrounded by people who actually enjoyed the artist they were there to see. Go figure. AF ended the set with “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains).” To start the encore, the fake band the Reflektors popped up in the middle of the arena with a Marvin Gaye song playing, before the real band was back on stage and interrupted them to launch into a cover of Fugazi’s “Waiting Room.” They’ve been playing a different cover in each city, similar to what Ben Gibbard did on his solo tour a few years back. Fugazi was clearly a great choice sonically for the band, even if it was bizarre to see a Fugazi song played in an arena. It wasn’t that much more awkward than seeing Arcade Fire songs played in an arena.
The rest of the fab encore continued with “Reflektor” “Normal Person” “Here Comes the Night Time” and “Wake Up.” They really filled the arena well. The energy was high and the lights were great. The costumes really did make the whole thing more fun. I just wish I could see them in a venue with better sound. I would pay approximately a ba-gillion dollars to see them play a place like the 9:30 Club again.
Venue pictures here. BYT review and pictures here.