One of the hallmarks of Arcade Fire’s latest record Reflektor is how much it inspires listeners to get up and dance. It was an interesting and much discussed direction, one that represented a true shift in the group’s acclaimed sonic imprint. At the Montreal band’s show at the Gorge Friday night, you didn’t have to look farther than to your left or right to see that it was a move well worth it.
After fantastic but diametrically opposed sets from the Antlers and Dan Deacon, Arcade Fire gathered on stage promptly at 9 p.m. and wasted no time launching into the self-titled single. From there, the band hit the audience with another new song, “Flashbulb Eye,” before pulling out its Funeral-era hit “Rebellion (Lies).” It seemed surprising that it would play such a recognizable tune a mere 10 minutes into the show, but with so much material to work with, it couldn’t hope to stack everything at the back end.
All night long, the gathered thousand-plus crowd danced and gyrated with impressive abandon as the band rattled off song after song. The party feel was pushed to an even greater degree by those who took the group up on its request to come dressed in costume or formal attire.
You couldn’t have asked for a better evening to stage the event as well. You never know what you’re going to get from the Gorge, but the weather and the atmosphere was near perfect. As the sun set over the Columbia River Valley, the blistering orange sky was replaced by a perfect, yellow full moon—a heavenly disco ball over the throbbing dance party.
Across two breezy hours, the group delivered a set that left little to be desired. With the exception of the album Neon Bible, the band performed a healthy dose of tunes from across its career, and by the time it ended the main set with “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains),” you could have forgiven it if it decided to call it a night. Gladly, it didn’t.
During every show on the tour, the band has played one song as an ode to the location it’s playing. Frontman Win Butler hinted that the tune might be Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” as his band performed a haunting version of the chorus in both the intro and outro to “Rococo.” But that was just a preamble to the band’s chosen cover—and first encore—Temple of the Dog’s “Hunger Strike.”
On stage with its paper mache-headed doppelgänger group “The Reflektors,” the band rounded out the encore with four more songs, culminating with the anthemic hit “Wake Up.” The crowd was still chanting the song’s iconic refrain as Butler and company made their way off stage, paper mache heads held high, having successfully proven why an Arcade Fire show is an event never to be missed.