“Formal attire or costume mandatory” was the caveat posted in the email sent to everyone who had pre-ordered Arcade Fire’s latest album “Reflektor.” These lucky few gained first access to tickets to a unique concert experience from the Grammy-award-winning band. This tour was purposefully under-publicized and booked under a pseudonym, boding to be a night of mystery, extravagance and indie rock.
The experience began with an email notifying Arcade Fire fans that “The Reflektors” would be playing four shows to promote their newest album. The tickets for the Brooklyn and Miami shows went on sale Wednesday, Oct. 16, with the first show happening on the upcoming Friday. Fans bought tickets promptly at 10 a.m. when the sale was posted. After selling out of pre-order tickets, the band announced that the regular sale would be the next morning. When sales opened back up, tickets sold out in just seconds.
The email announcement was the only direct notification of this event. Other hints could be found with a keen eye all around New York City like posters or graffiti tags on random street corners. Even people searching concert websites for upcoming events would have only seen the announcement for an unknown band “The Reflektors” playing in a small warehouse, hardly a notable occurrence.
By Friday evening, Brooklyn was full of costumed hipsters waiting to see The Reflektors. An address in Bushwick was the only hint of where the show would take place. The unnamed warehouse-turned-artspace was packed tightly into a manufacturing district. Excited concert-goers walked through streets full of factories and semi-trucks to reach the brick building identified only by the line of people which started to form outside.
Under a full moon, people dressed in anything from suits and ties to banana costumes, seemed apropos in this dark corner of Brooklyn. Young and old, fans lined up far beyond the building, waiting up to four hours before doors were scheduled to open.
During the long wait, event staff walked up and down the line offering complimentary face painting. A table with masks, capes and other costume accessories was by the door for anyone who did not have a chance to dress up.
“We get dressed up every night so we thought we’d have you all join us for once,” Arcade Fire frontman Winter “Win” Butler said to the crowd, dressed in an elaborate marching band jacket after having just taken off an enormous plaster mask replica of his head which is not unusual attire for the band.
The special costumes and interesting venue created an atmosphere of delight among concertgoers. Most people had clearly put hours of effort into their outfit. Some dressed classy, in slim-fitting suits with vests, while others adorned themselves to look like David Bowie, hillbillies, toast, various animals and more. A common trend was classic formalwear accompanied by a masquerade mask.
Inside the warehouse, disco balls and mirrors hung everywhere, in reference to the theme of reflection in Arcade Fire’s new songs. Similarly, people wore mirrored masks, ties, jewelry and even shiny shoes, making the entire room a reflective light show.
Fans crowded up to the stage, hoping to be as close to the band as possible, only to be tricked by noise coming from the other side of the building and a curtain opening to reveal the real stage. A stampede ensued as everyone rushed over to get the closest spot.
The band fully owned their new identity as The Reflektors, rocking out with songs from the new album. The joke extended far into the night with Arcade Fire as The Reflektors announcing each song from their older albums as a cover of “a Montreal band called Arcade Fire.”
Full of tricks and whimsy, the Reflektors experience was like no other. Arcade Fire has again succeeded in creating an image and feeling to accompany their music. The new album has already gone beyond their past ventures with the release of interactive music videos to connect with songs.
While the show in its setting and atmosphere seemed like a scene from an indie movie, the musical performance left something to be desired. The fans, pumped up from the excitement of the rush to buy tickets, prepare a costume and wait in line, were more excited than just everyday concertgoers. But without an opening act, The Reflektors played for no more than an hour, with only two familiar songs on their setlist. Their final song felt more like a break for intermission. In fact, Butler came out on stage to let everyone know they would not be playing any more songs and stop looking at the stage in expectation. There was no clear finale or encore.
Still, the band promised to come out to the dancefloor and party with everyone late into the night. A handful of recognizable faces also attended the show, such as “Reflektor” producer and former LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy, The National guitarists Aaron and Bryce Dessner, and indie film star Michael Cera.
For fans of Arcade Fire, the show was an essential experience. From the costume party theme to the underground Brooklyn venue, the atmosphere was spot on, but fans that want to hear old familiar songs from a favorite band may be disappointed by the limited setlist.
While ticket opportunities may be slim, The Reflektors tour will continue closer to home in Miami on Oct. 23 and 24.