Judgment on Arcade Fire’s fifth LP, July’s Everything Now, proved swift and generally brutal. Reflecting such – or perhaps in the parlance of the Canadians’ previous album, Reflektor-ing such – was the notably sparse crowd Wednesday night at the Frank Erwin Center. Not that it slowed the Montreal collective for a single moment.
Fire in the Hole: (l-r) Jeremy Gara, Win Butler, and Régine Chassagne rally the Frank Erwin Center Sept. 27, 2017 (Photo by David Brendan Hall)
Despite the less-than-favorable reviews weeding out fair-weather fans, Arcade Fire took on the audience by way of a stage centered in the middle of the UT basketball arena for 360-degree visual access to the group. A drum kit, congas, at least six keyboard set-ups, and an assortment of other instruments were then vigorously attacked with remarkable heart and infectious energy. Four sides of LED screens and a lighting rig relying heavily on strobes accompanied.
Introduced as though they were boxers, the band appeared fit and feisty. Good thing, too, because rather than a fight match, the Red River drum turned into a dance club. With 2013’s Reflektor, follow-up to Album of the Year Grammy winner The Suburbs, Arcade Fire subtly transitioned from melodic indie crew to dance rockers while retaining all the emotion and authenticity.
Only a power outage discourages the true boogie maven, so neither band nor fans appeared disheartened by the empty seats. Warm bodies clustered the edges of the stage, all of them ready, willing, and able to respond to the disco synths pulsating through the group’s new title track and album mate “Signs of Life.” Both transitioned effortlessly into a sing-along on “Rebellion (Lies),” from now-iconic 2004 debut Funeral.
From that point forward, and with the aid of two giant disco balls, Win and Will…