Thursday, April 7, 2011

Hipping the kids to Arcade Fire

After some youthful attempts to spot music trends and display enough hipness to avoid being tabbed as square, I have reconciled myself to a life behind the curve, content to listen to the old stuff because I like it and not worry about catching the latest wave. I guess I realized the ultimate truth  of Judith Viorst's classic poetry collection: It's Hard To Be Hip Over 30 and Other Tragedies of Married Life.
My daughter, with whom I have much in common musically, did her best to fight this fossilization by peppering me with this question as we listened to the car radio: "Who's playing now?" Eventually, she returned to the sanctity of her earbuds and the music of her day.

So it was with some pleasure that during this past year, I was able to spot a trend (or a group) that I thought stood out from the crowd and thus could win a lap in the ongoing hipness race, at least with her.  While channel surfing, I came across a motley band playing this loud, exuberant yet very lyrical music in concert on HD Net.

 Attracted by the music, I stayed glued to the set in an effort to figure out what the hell instruments they were playing and who they were. In additon to two drums, two (and often three) violins, they had a hurdy-gurdy and  a siren,  which if done properly is a great way to pump up the energy of the crowd and the music.

Shortly thereafter, friend Elizabeth (my daughter's age) was visiting from Montreal and when I asked if she had heard of them, she said "Of course, they are great."  That made my day coming from a young woman who plays violin in symphonies and swing bands on several continents.  She immediately brought me a copy of Arcade Fire's Neon Bible which cemented my affection for their music (even if I did have trouble deciphering some lyrics) because they were having fun and it was fun listening to them having fun.

But, here's the rub. My daughter had never heard of them when I told her the story about Elizabeth. One for me. Turns out, things got better because Arcade Fire was headed to Glasgow and she wanted to know if she should pluck down  her precious pounds for a ticket. I said go for it, she ended up on the concert floor within cellphone camera range and quickly jumped on the bandwagon.  Thus another music note was added to the family folklore. (And Arcade Fire went on to greater glory at the Grammys.)

Jessica, who took these photos in Glasgow, was the subject of an earlier post (January 24, The Dream Question) about her rendezvous with the crew of the Mountain Stage radio show when they arrived in Glasgow for the Celtic Connections Music Festival and she got to hang out backstage.  The concert they recorded with Mavis Staples and others is airing this week on Mountain Stage stations around the country. They don't appear to stream it live from their site but I found excerpts through

And finally:
 First Nixon, Now Dylan
The Washington Post has a story today about the peripatetic troubadour who was apparently willing to omit songs from his playlist in order to get his passport stamped in Mandarin. For an old guy, he has an amazing knack for staying in the spotlight. Here's the link


  1. I discovered Arcade Fire on an episode of, would you believe it, "Austin City Limits." You're right. They're an intoxicating band and I wouldn't dare try to categorize them.

  2. Yea, here's another boomer who's hip to Arcade Fire. Not sure what category they would have been back in the radio days, but I think the old WNAP would have played them.

    I've found that some great stuff is being done, simply as background to tv and movie drama now.

    Good for pop that he was able to out cool his daughter. good show old boy.