An Early Summer Arcade Fire Reverie

I always think of memories in terms of seasons. For example, when it’s Christmas, I’m most prone to reflect back on all my favorite Christmas memories. When it’s the first cold day of Autumn, I think about all things Autumnal.

And so it is now, in these first few days of summer. I’ve been thinking back to “early summer” memories like Vacation Bible School, camping trips, mowing the grass twice a week, Memorial Day barbecues, the cold water of early summer pool swimming, seeing Coldplay at Red Rocks in 2003, driving up the Pacific Coast Highway with my parents last June, seeing Jurassic Park one humid afternoon in 1993 after a morning at Bill Self’s basketball camp. And the list goes on.

After reading this amazing post by my friend Laurel, I was pleasantly reminded this week of another early summer memory: seeing Arcade Fire open for David Byrne at the Hollywood Bowl in June 2005.

The concert was amazing. I was with my best friend Ryan, and the two of us had just driven out to California all the way from Chicago for a summer internship in Redlands. We’d also just finished college, and the future was scary and exciting. We were at the Hollywood Bowl listening to Arcade Fire, whose music somehow captured everything about who we were at that moment in time.

We were drinking red wine and some sort of fancy cheese that we’d picked up at Trader Joes. Our friend Tracy was with us—a new friend from work. There were hipsters everywhere. In a month we would be in England.

It was four years ago this month. And so much has happened since then. It’s strange to think I’ve been out of college (undergrad) longer than I was in it. But that night of listening to Arcade Fire at the Bowl remains so clear in my memory, as if it were yesterday.

Here’s a bit of Laurel’s description of the same concert experience:

In the summer after I graduated college, I saw the Arcade Fire perform for the first time… I was full of defiant optimism, at once terrified and yet determined to take this thing called Life and turn it on its head, to beat it into submission. I had yet to work three jobs – three corporate jobs that would eventually leave me for lack of any better term, dazed and utterly confused. I had yet to watch social groups fracture and filigree and form messy veins that skittered across a map of the U.S. and beyond. I had yet to experience loss of any real kind, and I’d certainly yet to sacrifice a third of my paycheck to any government I refused to pledge allegiance to at the time. In other words, I was a real asshat, brimming to the gills with youthful insouciance and I certainly had never been told, “Hey, kid, simmer down. Your self-righteous can-do spirit is on a rampage and it’s headed straight for my patience.”

But that’s the joy of it all! That can-do spirit went and did it and that night at the show, I wanted to jump out of my skin and conquer the world right then and there. And the thing about the Arcade Fire is that you get the sense that Winn Butler & the gang are right there with you, all muscular energy and visceral, blistering pronouncements. In solidarity you spit out the lyrics, fists beating the fevered night air. In revolt you get your body moving, get your hips swaying to that insurgent sound and you really feel like you can take on the world. All the media, the marketing, the agency big-wigs, the monolithic corporate structures – all of it! Piecemeal! Easily bested! “Now here’s the moon, it’s all right (lies! lies!), and every time you close your eyes (lies! lies!)” … (read more)

It was interesting reading this account of the Arcade Fire concert and resonating with so much of it. These were not my memories, but I remember feeling similar things. And I would guess that hundreds of other twentysomethings who were at that show would look back on that event with likeminded thoughts. Funny that four years later, I’m friends with some of those strangers who were in that massive amphitheater that early summer evening. Funny that four years later, Arcade Fire has released only one more album. Funny that I distinctly remember the look of certain hipsters at that concert four years ago, and now I’m writing a book about hipsterdom.

Ah, June. It’s right in the middle of every painful, passing year. But it’s an idealistic month.

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One response to “An Early Summer Arcade Fire Reverie

  1. “…and it’s headed straight for my patience.” hhahahah. That’s a great quote.

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