REVIEW: Arcade Fire at Summerfest

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It’s been 14 years since Arcade Fire played Milwaukee, and the band made sure to make up for lost time on Sunday night, closing out Summerfest. In the time since they had made a trip to Mad Planet as a tour stop, the band has become one of the biggest in the world, and proved that they’ve become one of the best touring acts to date with their thrilling live show at the American Family Insurance Amphitheater. Over the course of around two hours, the band’s “Everything Now” tour gave us their everything, now.

Openers Manchester Orchestra brought a set of intense alt-rock to the night, but felt slightly out of place juxtaposed against the night’s headliner. That being said, the crowd at the amphitheater was supportive of a heavier act kicking the night off, but remained mostly seated. The set, however, was strong and served the purpose of getting the crowd ready for the headliner.

Arcade Fire didn’t waste an opportunity to make a spectacle of their first Milwaukee show in over a decade. The band entered through the crowd, and lights from both the stage and within the crowd, as well as a giant disco ball (not unlike the one at Mad Planet) illuminated the audience, giving you the feeling of being surrounded by the band’s funky, glassy sound of “Everything Now”. During the course of the night, multiple band members would make their way back into the audience, including Win Butler performing “We Don’t Deserve Love” near the sound booth, where RĂ©gine Chassagne would later go for “Reflektor”. It felt like more of a party than a concert at times, and definitely felt like one of the coolest parties that you’d ever go to.

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The majority of the set list, however, stayed away from the band’s most recent album. The title track opened the night, but then it was time to catch everyone up on all of the tours that had somehow missed Milwaukee. Tracks from the band’s debut, “Funeral” brought the band to life, followed by material from “The Suburbs” that demonstrated why the band propelled to stardom. A trio of songs from “Everything Now” made it into the set list, but brought the energy down to some extent. That being said, Arcade Fire in a “down” moment is still on par with many bands at their highest point. The set concluded with current single “Creature Comfort”, followed by “Funeral” track “Rebellion (Lies)”. It was a lengthy show, which led to belief that when the main set was over, that may be it for the night. Nobody would have faulted the band, who would return.

The night’s encore kept things more low-key, but made for special moments aplenty. “Neon Bible” was accented by thousands of glowing phone lights, and then a singalong reprise of “Everything Now”‘s group vocals hit you right in the feels. To close out the night, an energetic version of breakout hit “Wake Up” had the crowd singing in full voice, and they continued to accent the song all the way until the band had walked off of the stage, singing and dancing their way to the back. If you were looking for a moment to cherish, there were many throughout the night, but the show closer really brought it all home.

Summerfest was definitely closed out in style by Arcade Fire, who brought a plethora of action and gave you everything they had on Sunday night. Win Butler promised that it won’t be 14 years before their next show in town, but even if it is, the people in attendance at the American Family Insurance Amphitheater will absolutely have fond memories of the last time the band played Milwaukee.

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