15 May 2011

[live review] Wilco, Arcade Fire, and The Strokes @ JazzFest

You remember JazzFest, right? That huge festival that went down last weekend? Anyway, sorry for the delay, but here's art/official's take on it...

As always, the americana heroes put on an excellent show.


Ashes of American Flags

Bull Black Nova

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart


Handshake Drugs

One Wing
A Shot In The Arm

Impossible Germany

Jesus, Etc. 

Airline To Heaven

You Never Know


I'm the Man Who Loves You

Red-Eyed and Blue

I Got You (At The End of the Century)

Hoodoo Voodoo


Spiders (Kidsmoke)

Heavy Metal Drummer

Jeff Tweedy


As soon as indie giants Arcade Fire took to JazzFest’s Acura Stage last Friday evening, it was clear that they were as happy to see us as we were happy to see them. Win Butler and company seemed very gracious to be in our fair city. Hailing from the recently devastated country of Haiti, Win’s right-hand woman Régine Chassagne felt very at home amidst the camaraderie of New Orleans. For a band that’s got a lot to be pretentious about, they came off as quite humble throughout the performance. But for Arcade Fire, humble does not equal boring — the wildly energetic show was jam-packed with their best songs spanning all three of their albums.

Goosebumps circulated through the crowd as the band tore into the appropriately titled opener “Ready To Start” from their Grammy award-winning album from last year, The Suburbs. Following that came Funeral dark horse “Neighborhood #2 (Laika)” to the delight of longtime fans, followed by Neon Bible’s catchy gem “Keep The Car Running.” This set the tone for the rest of sunset-laden concert. Later on in the set, before galloping into “The Suburbs,” Win explained that he and Régine wrote the song while driving around the South, and that the process was influenced directly or indirectly by the proximity to New Orleans. The last songs were even stronger than the first ones. The beginning of the end started when Win began to joke about a song that took place “in a far off land where white stuff falls out of the sky,” of course referring to the sincere and snowy sentiment found within “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels).” Next came to the loud and evocative “We Used To Wait,” then the raw power of “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out),” and finally the give-and-take "oooh’s" of fist-pumper “Rebellion (Lies).”

Encores are never sure things at festivals, but Wilco had done one the day before in the same timeslot, so I figured Arcade Fire had something up their sleeves. What the band delivered is a super rare performance of their deep cut b-side “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” from the pre-debut 7” that was only released in rural Sweden. What a treat for the audience! And on top of that (as if it could get any better), Arcade Fire founding member Cyndi Lauper joined them onstage for it! Truly one for the indie rock record books, folks. After that was written in stone, Cyndi stuck around to accompany Régine on The Suburbs standout “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains).” Finally, in true Arcade Fire form, they finished with “Wake Up,” their epic hit of hits.

Arcade Fire put on a headlining show of great proportions. The eight men and women of the Canadian band are on top of the world right now. Without a doubt, they will be remembered as one of the most important bands of our generation. That fact was proven last Friday, and embodied perfectly in their exceptional set.


After five years of silence post-First Impressions of Earth in 2006, The Strokes are back on tour with Angles, bringing their distinctive New York garage rock to festivals across the globe. Their Jazz Fest gig followed knock-out performances by Wilco and Arcade Fire the previous two days, inevitably setting the bar very high. As more seasoned festival fogies jammed out to Jimmy Buffet on the main Acura Stage, thousands welcomed The Strokes into the ungodly Louisiana heat. The quintet kicked off their set with “Gratisfaction,” a gem off their latest album. This tune seemed an appropriate opener, perhaps soothing the crowd for waiting all this time with the its first line, “Oh baby don’t you be so mad because I barely remember…” I, however, was disappointed that they failed to include “Machu Picchu” with its danceable steel-drum-esque backdrop. Regardless, the rest of the 18-song set was peppered with the necessary favorites: sexy “Juicebox” and “Reptilia” (which lead singer Julian Casablancas referred to as “reptilica”), a drawling “Is This It”, and that snarky groove “New York City Cops.” The instrumentation was tight, and Nick Valensi’s guitar solos could have been straight off a recording (in the best way).

Although the band receives criticism for their stage presence, (Who likes a band for their charisma anyway? But I digress…) all five Strokes seemed to be feeling good. Even Julian was making self-deprecating attempts to talk about jazz during technical difficulties.

The set ended suddenly with “Take It or Leave It,” which was again, appropriate, since they practically ran off the stage afterwards. The crowd held their breath for an encore, but things were looking bleak as soon as background music came on and roadies began unplugging equipment. I snagged a setlist after chatting up a security guy and then headed straight for the Gentilly Stage Artist Drop-Off. Eventually, the Strokes five came down the ramp. During our brief interactions I facetiously asked Julian to enlighten me more about New Orleans Jazz. He mused, “Well jazz funerals…” and then laughed. Upon questioning bassist Nikolai Fraiture about the abrupt exit, he shrugged bashfully.
What can ya do? For this starry-eyed fangirl, hearing the older hits was enough. Maybe hopeful Strokesies can look to Bonnaroo next month for
retribution. Between playing short sets, mumbly band banter, waiting five years between albums, and foregoing an encore, it is evident that The Strokes will only do The Strokes.

Wilco Photos, Arcade Fire Article, and Composition by: Connor Crawford
Arcade Fire Photos, Strokes Article, and Strokes Photos by: Justine Bird

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