Arcade Fire played a set of twelve songs on top of the Capitol Records building in Hollywood on October 29th for a “secret” rooftop performance in connection with the release of their new record Reflektor. The band performed above a wall of reflective streamers, thirty feet above the audience, who gathered below in a fenced-in parking lot between Vine and Argyle, north of Hollywood Boulevard. As the concert approached, streets were blocked off and traffic piled up as lines of fans grew around the block. People were dressed up in reflective costumes, from formal suits and tin foil ties with reflective masks, to more unconventional attire comprised of metallic duct tape, CDs pinned to Napolean hats, mosaics of shattered mirror pieces, silver jumpsuits and so on.
The majority of the set consisted of material from Reflektor that was released the very same day via Merge. The album is a joint venture with Capitol, who is distributing and promoting it. As show time approached, the audience looked around to find a sign of the band. The whole night seemed to be set up for surprises and after their SNL special, it seemed anything could happen. To the surprise of the masses, Arcade Fire finally appeared in full Reflektor-attire on the roof of Capitol Records.
Tracks played included “Here Comes the Night Time”, “We Exist”, “Afterlife”, and “Reflektor.” Few in the crowd seemed to be intensely connecting with the music until toward end of the set, when Arcade Fire offered a few older songs. This seemed partially due to the fact that Win Butler and his band looked like small blips of light from the distance, which undoubtedly put a damper on the energy. The audience was immediately ignited by a fake encore of “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” and “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)”, both of which were from previous Arcade Fire albums. Despite the 30-foot-height difference between the band and the audience, after over an hour of playing, Arcade Fire had the crowd fully engaged and wanting more. Visually, Win seemed to ditch the guitar for the majority of the show. His bedazzled jacket and fringe pants would make anyone draw comparisons to David Bowie; or even channeling Elvis at times.
From up on high, singer Win Butler told the crowd how excited he was about his album coming out on Merge. As the band played “Here Comes the Night Time”, bursts of metallic confetti bloomed into the air around the Capitol building, captivating the audience and causing passerby pedestrians to gather around the lot. This beautiful moment also connoted the fact that while Arcade Fire might be trying to reflect their fans’ eyes away from Capitol’s involvement with this album’s release, it is clear that the band has far outgrown its indie rock reputation and that their success is largely intertwined with major label forces.
Photos by Marcus Haney