Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Yeah, a tunnel, from my voting booth to yours (Arcade Fire For Obama, Athens OH, 3/9/08)

extrawack!'s man in Ohio, Michael Koch, checks in with this report from Presidential Primary Land:

It started late last Friday afternoon with a most odd Facebook message. In a week that saw Bill and Chelsea Clinton as well as Michelle Obama swing through this hardcore Democratic college town in Battleground Ohio, things had already taken a turn for the strange. But the story being passed on was that the Arcade Fire had just offered to play a show at the student center auditorium to drum up support for Barack Obama's campaign. On Sunday evening. For free.

And they were turned down, because Ohio University claimed they couldn't get the facility together on such short notice! Yet the show was going on somewhere, and if you were one of the first 250 people at the Obama booth Saturday morning, you'd get a ticket.
Were we seriously to believe all this?

Enough, in my case, to drag myself up there at 8 am and find this line. And wonder of wonders...it wasn't a hoax.

So here's some photos from the TWO free shows put on at Nelsonville, Ohio's tidy little Stuart's Opera House by "members of the Arcade Fire", as the six-piece lineup was billed on Sunday night. What started out as one show somehow changed into two by Sunday evening - I for one had no idea until after the first was up.

Both sets were relatively short ("You get what you pay for," Win Butler reminded us) clocking in at a bit over an hour, including Colin Stetson opening on the sax - but intense and loud and fun. You may be surprised to hear this, but living in Appalachian Ohio over the past four years, I haven't had the chance to see the Arcade Fire perform live. So while I expected power and energy and deep meaning in their performance, I was not expecting so much charm and fun - i.e Regine igniting a ragtime jam while some equipment was fixed, or stoking the crowd with a baseball stadiumesque "charge!" They all seemed genuinely glad to be here playing free shows in rural Ohio of a late winter weekend. Most of us haven't been so happy to be here through the entire miserable, sunless month of February, and we don't even have to go out.

Highlights of the sets were Power Out, Rebellion (Lies), Keep The Car Running, and covers of Bowie's "Heroes," Lennon's "Gimme Some Truth," and Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come."

Cue one of the most bizarre moments of my show-going life: spilling out into the empty Nelsonville night post-show 1, asking myself "do I stand in line for another hour for more free, close-up Arcade Fire, or go get dinner now?"

Dinner can always wait, and did.

Arcade Fire - "Black Mirror" mp3

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