The concert venue at Randall's Island is essentially a ginormous field connected to a huge paved rectangular area at least a couple hundred meters across and twice that deep fronted by a tall girdered bandshell. Not exactly what we were hoping for, but plenty of room and easy access to beer and food.
Besides, later, when the Arcade Fire hit the stage to send the already ecstatic hordes into orbit, mere details like the asphalt underfoot wouldn't matter.
But first, out of New Hampshire, Wild Light. In a word: Lame. Perhaps I'm being too hard on them, but their Wallflowers meets Midnight Oil vibe just wasn't doing it for me. They looked like rock stars, but they were just plain boring, pedestrian lyrics made all too clear and intelligible in the vocal heavy mix, with the same description applying to the rhythm guitar. And no matter. Les Savy Fav was next.
Tim Harrington moved as quickly from normally dressed to costumed to half naked to costumed again (this time in a leotard with the nervous system printed on it, far as I could tell) as he did from flailing about the stage to wandering in the crowd to flailing about the stage again, and again. He was all frenetic magnificent energy, romping through plenty of new stuff off Let's Stay Friends (Raging in the Plague Age stood way out) and reaching way back past Inches (The Sweat Descends!) to ROME and beyond to drop some Who Rocks the Party on us real quick like. A great set, even if the sound and maniacal presence were somewhat unavoidably tamed by the size of the stage.
Blonde Redhead followed, as the sky darkened a bit, and their all-red lightshow matched well to the darker, more ethereal and mysterious feel of their new record, 23. The threesome stayed with the new release for most of their set, and this was a good thing, the set bound together by common vibe and sound more than I've felt with them before. Even if the new one is more poppy and accessible, adjectives some wield as condescension but I feel serves them well this time round, the show was magnificent, the mood sustained and the songs memorable to the last.
When LCD Soundsystem took the stage, launching straight into Get Innocuous off their latest, the crowd blew up. James Murphy's sort of solo recording act is a full-on dead-righteous band in the live setting, up to 4 or 5 people playing percussion at any given time, and Murphy himself with charisma to burn. The songs were long and knocked out with unflagging energy every time, from the showstopper North American Scum to the first album's Tribulations. The light show was hot, and the band obviously thrilled to be back home after a long time on the road.
Us v Them was a nonstop dance party, and Someone Great was sublime, ringing through the doorbell melody and accentuating the lightly plodding bottom. They ended with New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down, of course, and it was a fitting end to a brilliant set.
It'd be hard to imagine having to follow this band on this night, but when the Arcade Fire is headlining, the wonder stops pretty quick. It'd been since Sasquatch two years previous that I'd seen them, and I found myself as excited as the first time as they took the stage. They started a bit slowly, with Black Mirror off their new one, but there'd be no disappointing this crowd tonight. Keep the Car Running was right on its heels, and that one elevated the assembly to the heights they'd been expecting. From there on, it was relentless. Haiti, Power Out, Intervention, I'm Sleeping In a Submarine, No Cars Go, they just kept coming. They closed the set with Antichrist Television Blues, powerfully, and came back out for a few more, including the showstopper Wake Up.
The Arcade Fire play every song like the world will end with its final crescendo. Who knows how long they can keep that up, or how long we'll rise and fall with their every move. From the looks of this show, from the sound of this band, the end is nowhere in sight.
(photos horked from http://www.villagevoice.com/gallery/0741,0740arcadefire,77987,3.html?pic=1&total=39)