Arcade Fire More Exciting Than Church Theme Would Suggest

Win Butler performs with Arcade Fire in France, August 2007.Photo: De Rosa / Starface / Retna

Arcade Fire's headlining Saturday-night show on Randall's Island was preceded by so much hype that you'd think Barack Obama had volunteered to sing backup. Les Savy Fav — one of three opening bands, along with the ever-dreamy Blonde Redhead and ever-cowbell-laden LCD Soundsystem — delivered a typically anarchic and silly set, with singer Tim Harrington donning a black hat and robber's mask (after, of course, removing his shirt to show off his gut) and marching around with a cake balanced on his head. Dressed mostly in black, the members of Arcade Fire kind of resembled bandits, too, and they performed their own semi-acrobatic feats.

Surrounded onstage by a makeshift church (you'll recall that their most recent album is called Neon Bible), complete with red curtains, organ pipes, and, in a televangelist touch, video screens, the ten-member band led a sort of tent revival. During “Leika,” two of them literal tossed a big drum back and forth across the stage, banging on it all the while. Another enterprising soul later climbed the scaffolding, drum strapped over his shoulder, making it up what seemed like three or four stories. He finished the song pounding his drum one-handed. Singer Win Butler, meanwhile, wound up hiding behind a set of keyboards, only to have a small camera (apparently attached to his microphone) splash his face across the Jumbotrons. And so it came to pass: Arcade Fire were larger than life. —Brandon Cuicchi