Arcade Fire in Campo Pequeno: Is there still an “us”? – Life

Arcade Fire in Campo Pequeno: Is there still an “us”? – Life
Arcade Fire in Campo Pequeno: Is there still an “us”? – Life

This would never be an Arcade Fire concert like the previous ones. At the end of August, the Canadian band’s new tour found itself overshadowed by sexual abuse allegations made against their vocalist and guitarist, Win Butler. At least three women claim to have had inappropriate sex with the musician, “given the differences in age, power dynamics and the context in which they occurred”, read a Pitchfork article dedicated to the case. Feist, who was to do the first parts of this tour, canceled her presence, saying that it “was incongruous with what I’ve worked to clarify for myself throughout my career.” For his part, Butler – who is married to Régine Chassagne, the other side of Arcade Fire – admitted to having committed adultery, apologized for his actions, and stressed that all extramarital relationships he had were consensual.

It’s a troublesome shadow, and it’s even more so as far as Arcade Fire is concerned. Since birth, Canadians have been the archetypal band of indie: honest lyrics, bombastic songs filled with choruses designed for moments of live communion, a discography where not even a few less accomplished moments (like “Everything Now”, where those flutes confused many people) tarnished previous successes, a career that was built without the selling out that sometimes defines some of his closest professional colleagues. We liked Arcade Fire because Arcade Fire felt like a fantasy, teenagers like us, hearts in the world for the world to change just by the force of a melody.

We use the word “we” because it is what, in English, gives the title to the new Arcade Fire album, released in May. And because that word, which was also sprawled on stage, took on another meaning that we are still trying to understand: is there really a “we” when one of the parties feels betrayed by the other? It is true that, in this matter of music, it is better to follow the example of the ultras of football and preach: zero idols. The club has to be above everyone else or, in this case, the music has to be above everything. We still really like Arcade Fire songs. We cannot guarantee that we still like those who give them a voice, at least until the shadow is dissipated, the truth comes out, the victims find peace and those who are dearest to them – both family, friends, and others. all fans – can forgive him completely.

Someone will say that art must be separated from the artist, which is absolutely valid. Others will say that the purpose of art can also be that, to challenge what we already felt, to make us uncomfortable. These are questions that, frankly, do not have a single right answer, but that hang in the air whenever an artist crosses the red line that separates the creator from his humanity (all artists play God). Win Butler was wrong and is no longer just the creator of ‘Wake Up’, ‘No Cars Go’ or ‘Ready To Start’. The pedestal on which they placed it, consciously or unconsciously, has disappeared; the ideal of perfection that had been attached to it vanished.

Gone is that ideal, only professionalism remains. Arcade Fire continue to be, live, a resounding band: the public, oblivious or looking to distance themselves from the news that bothers them, welcomed them as they always welcomed them, with open arms, shouting to the nothingness that is everything, with applause many and of sharp songs where the tongue keeps the verses that were tattooed. But now everything sounds blissfully sad, and not its opposite, which was that effusive melancholy that permeated Arcade Fire records until the dance of “Reflektor” (2013). It’s as if Win Butler is trying to apologize to the entire world, knowing that beside him is the woman he betrayed and, in front of him, the fans he let down.

In this, which was the first of two concerts that Arcade Fire will give in Campo Pequeno, there was a triad of songs that made us think precisely of Régine: ‘It’s Never Over (Hey Orpheus)’ (Seems like a big deal now / But you will get over), ‘My Body Is A Cage’ (That keeps me from dancing with the one I love), and ‘Afterlife’ (Let’s scream and shout ’till we work it out), verses that pass from their original meaning to one that is more similar to loss and an attempt at reconciliation, even though in these three moments neither one nor the other musician has looked at or touched each other. We think of Régine because we don’t know what’s going through her head, forced to bear the brunt not only of controversy but also of her profession. Her position on stage turns out to be the most unfair of all. The show must go on even if the ego wants to run away.

Or maybe she also sees in this whole tour a way of alienating herself, like the fans. Songs such as ‘Ready To Start’, which raised several people from their chairs, ‘The Suburbs’, with the audience singing the chorus at the end, or ‘Reflektor’, the gigantic mirror ball inviting bodies to move, are and will forever be magical, even if their interpretation no longer has the spark of yore, which made us want to live in a commune with Arcade Fire. What was once special is now only very good. There is a lack of a light, which will bring us back to that place where we were carefree – and the audience tried to be that light, illuminating the venue before the encore.

In between was the audience accompaniment in ‘Rebellion (Lies)’, the highlight that Butler gave to the beautiful ‘No Cars Go’ (“this was the third song we wrote together”, he said, the first time he recognized the presence of his wife on stage), the inflatable dolls that rose in ‘Unconditional I (Lookout Kid)’, the wonderful ‘Haiti’ (with members of the Boukman Eksperyans, who replaced Feist, on stage). The finale, with ‘Wake Up’, ended as an Arcade Fire concert should end: with their fans – and how lucky they are to have fans like that – putting their doubts aside and participating, with the band, in a kind of street that only ended outside Campo Pequeno. The line-up was a dream, the audience responded, but Arcade Fire seemed to be playing, most of the time, for themselves, making Campo Pequeno their confessional and their audience the priest who would absolve them. Was it a great concert by a great band? He was. That is enough? We will have to say no. Either that, or memorize one of the lines from ‘Unconditional I’: Let me say it again, no one’s perfect

The article is in Portuguese

Tags: Arcade Fire Campo Pequeno Life

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