in the line of fire

Tonight I’m going to see Arcade Fire – Montreal’s indie darlings who now fill stadiums around the globe. That means, of course, that music geeks are beginning to call them “sellouts.”

On the website Consequence of Sound, Alex Young writes:

“I feel like Arcade Fire has reached that point where they’re now Mother-approved. As in, you’ll soon be receiving a call from your mom asking if you’ve heard of this band called ‘The Arcade Fires’, because she read about them in Entertainment Weekly or heard them on NPR’s Morning Edition. Not that there’s anything wrong with this, of course…”

Ouch.

It’s an age-old story. A band / artist / designer / performer tips into mainstream popularity and is immediately branded dull and irrelevant. But unless they start churning out sub-par material (see U2), popularity doesn’t have to equal creative compromise.

As for Arcade Fire, their third album, The Suburbs, has received heaps of critical acclaim and they’re known for serving up positively electric live shows. They’ve also become savvy viral marketers.

The band doesn’t court mainstream press, but partnered with Google Chrome to release a buzzy, interactive film that quickly made the rounds on Facebook and Twitter. They also created eight different covers for The Suburbs and multiple purchase options, including CD, premium digital files, double 12-inch vinyl, and combinations of all three. They’re smart with social media — and they give back, with a focus on rebuilding Haiti through the KANPE Foundation and Partners in Health.

Sellouts? Not in my book, but we’ll see if they deliver the goods tonight.

posted 28 Sep 10 in: art, business, music, performance. This post currently has no responses.

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