Arcade Fire | 11.30.04

Arcade Fire
with Les Georges Leningrad and Bobby Conn
Mojo’s, November 30, 2004

Having missed the show that Arcade Fire played with The Unicorns at the Rocket Bar earlier this year (and then never hearing the end of it from my friends), it was an easy decision to make the drive out to Mojo’s in Columbia to catch them, since they aren’t coming through St. Louis on their tour in support of their ridiculously acclaimed album Funeral. It seems a safe bet that I was not the only St. Louisan to make the trip.

After a couple hours of driving through heavy snow, I arrived at Mojo’s, which has become one of my favorite places over the years to see bands—they always book good acts and the room is about the size of a two-car garage. The band that greeted me when I got there, Les Georges Leningrad, was the band I was expecting to play second, after Bobby Conn (who I hadn’t heard of going in). They mostly stuck to tracks from their new album, Sur Les Traces De Black Eskimo, with “Sponsorships” and “Black Eskimo” being particularly cool. I’m also baffled to report that lead singer Poney’s voice is actually even more fucked-up sounding in real life; imagine Satan with a blown voice box. What’s more, in between songs she would ramble out absolutely incomprehensible gibberish, with only non-sequiters like “stinky face” coming up from time to time.

Bobby Conn was next up, and they were completely horrendous. I’m not going to waste my word count on them.

My expectations for Arcade Fire’s live show were probably too high—all those stories about how Merge signed them based on their live shows and not on their demos, and the fact that FuneralFuneral, and lead singer Win Butler put so much into it that I was afraid he might pass out before the end. From song to song, practically all of the band’s five members switched instruments or traded with one another, so I’m pretty much at a loss to say who was doing what and when, but regardless, the sound was always very crisp, with every member well represented in the mix. Unless I’m mistaken, by the time the band went offstage, they had played every track from Funeral (plus two non-album tracks) minus the Régine Chassagne–led “In the Backseat,” which bummed me out, because that’s one of my favorites (and also probably the slowest song on the album). Standouts were “Neighborhood #4 (7 Kettles)” and the only song that Chassagne had lead vocals on, “Haiti.” After only a few seconds of the audience beating their hands together, the band returned to the stage, and Butler said they’d play us one more song, and then we’d have to go home. That song, not so surprisingly, was the coveted “In the Backseat,” and it was the best song they played all night. Not that Butler isn’t a good singer, but between “Haiti” and “Backseat,” I can’t help but wish Chassagne had more songs. is easily one of the best albums of the year—and yet, they fulfilled them. They opened with “Wake Up,” one of the faster tracks from

At one point during their set, Butler mentioned the fact that they had never played in Columbia before, but had played one ill-fated show in St. Louis, where they found the crowd “inhospitable.” Since I wasn’t at that show, I can’t attest to the crowd’s purported disinterest, but I’d like to take Butler’s word for it and thank all of my local St. Louisans for scaring Arcade Fire away, and putting myself and likely many others’ lives in danger by forcing them to drive to Columbia in the snow to catch one of the best new bands of the year.

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