Wake Up

Falling in Love with Arcade Fire

IMG_0668For the first date I ever went on with the woman who would become my wife, I made a mix CD.  Included was “Wake Up,” a standout song from Arcade Fire’s first album, Funeral.  She loved it (and the other stuff on the mix, but mainly that song).

A month later Arcade Fire released their second album, Neon Bible, a veritable step in a new, exciting direction for the band.  The music on that album was big, full of sweeping melodic hooks and layered instrumentation.  That Spring, as we listened to the music on Neon Bible, we fell in love with Arcade Fire…and with each other.

It was also that Spring that my wife and I saw our first Arcade Fire concert.  The band was holding court for three nights at the historic Chicago Theatre, and we had tickets for the final night.

Arcade Fire had recently been all over music news headlines, each article boasting the communally massive on-stage energy the band put forth.  One thing standing out in most of these was the focus on the song “Wake Up,” which the band was performing without amplification, through megaphones, in the middle of the audience.

I remember checking setlists for the two nights preceding our show before driving to Chicago–neither featured “Wake Up.”  I was surprised, and a bit scared–in the months leading up to the show, this song had come to be our anthem, the powerful all-out charge:  “Wake up!  This is life! Be in love!”  We felt like this song was ours–they had to play it.

When we stepped through the doors of the Chicago Theatre on Sunday May 20, 2007, I thought maybe Arcade Fire would show up in the lobby for a pre-show performance.  That didn’t happen, but I was able to snag a limited edition screenprinted poster for the show.

Our seats were perfect: fourteenth row, center.  On stage a cathedral pipe organ was situated, along with the rest of the band’s setup.  When the lights went down and the band walked on stage, the place erupted, and the first few power chords of “Wake Up” resounded through the theatre like a charge to everyone in the audience.  The opener was our song.

Since then we’ve seen Arcade Fire four times, most recently in Columbus on the Reflektor tour.  It seems, too, like each time they release an album and go on tour, something significant happens in our lives: in 2010 they released The Suburbs and we got married.  In 2014 Reflektor came out and we had Nora, our daughter.

On the whole, Arcade Fire’s music has served as a soundtrack to our lives together that seems to change and grow with each album as we seem to with each year.