by / July 11th, 2010 /

Oxegen 2010: Arcade Fire

Friday headliners Arcade Fire prove a disappointing draw, at least in terms of pure numbers. Perhaps it’s the twin attractions of Fatboy Slim and Simian Mobile Disco (or, heaven forbid, David Guetta) scattered across the site, but there can’t be more than 5,000 watching the Canadians tuck into their hits. The campsite rumour that -only 200′ turned up is farcically ridiculous, of course. It’s immediately clear, however, that such a popular alternative band is not made for a festival this commercial.

Arcade Fire, though, are not to be put off. Despite shortening their set to around an hour and a half (State had our doubts that they could stretch to two hours), Win and Regine’s chemistry is in full flow, with the dual-front and six-person backing band performing like this is their last show. A host of new songs come to the fore – including a playful, energetic rendition of -Modern Man’ – amongst alternative hits like the flamboyant -Haiti’ and all three versions of -Neighbourhood’.

At times, it’s clear that Arcade Fire’s more experimental elements don’t sit well with large parts of the crowd, but in more recognisable moments like closer -Wake Up’ and mid-set highlight -Rebellions (Lies)’ they have Oxegen jumping. The entire show is performed in front of affecting, head-spinning graphics, featuring the likes of a journey down a Canadian highway, and an empty, concrete box room.

Despite being notable heavier live than they come across on record, Arcade Fire are still a fairly mellow experience, more of a -stand back and soak it up’ band than one to jump around too, and leave the tuneful echoes of -Wake Up’ soaring through the air all the way back to the campsites. The new material is every bit as enticing as the band’s more dated content, and full of all those pace changes and elevated vocals. There’s one thing that stand out far above everything else: this is a stunning band playing to an audience that just doesn’t care as much as it should. Watch out for the strangely rocky -Month Of May’ and -Ready To Start’ when -The Suburbs’ – the title track of which rips into us pretentious city folks – hits the shelves next month. Arcade Fire has lost none of their power to seduce and inspire.

  • That was the lowest turn out I’ve ever seen for a headliner.

  • johnnyf_03

    shame about the turn out. they’re absolutely wasted at that. hopefully that’ll convince them to do a festival where they’ll actually be appreciated next time regardless of the pay day, i.e. EP

  • The last time they played Oxegen in 2007 there was a large day crowd for them but no one around me was interested in watching them, which was annoying. It’s strange to hear that they didn’t draw a larger crowd this year. Might indicate that we’ll get a smaller gig before the end of the year as opposed to a possible O2 gig.

  • laura

    only managed to arrive on site at about 9 so missed frightened rabbit and vampire weekend, but figured at least i could see villagers and arcade fire. villagers were class, headed to arcade fire and the place was empty!well not really but we walked right up to the barrier no bother. crowd there were just not doing anything-not the uplifting experience arcade fire should be. i’ve seen them twice before so i figured i wasnt going to have great memories destroyed by a shite crowd so went with my friend who wanted to see david guetta and had a class time going mental in the heineken tent!think they should really realise that they should have played picnic-would have been so much better. hopefully lesson learned

  • patrick

    They haven’t released an album since 2007 and even that was lackluster in my opinion. Their first album came out in 2004 and considering the average age of an Oxegen attendee most would have been aged between 12-14 when it came out. Why are people surprised that people didn’t want to stand in the cold rain to see a band that most barely know? When the rest of your lineup is the most commercial and mainstream in Europe and you put a band with limited mainstream appeal after Jay Z, who had just released a monster selling album, on the Main Stage you are not going to get a mass of people. Not that Arcade Fire will mind. They’ll still have gotten paid. Anybody that says they’ll be that disappointed with the turn out is naive in my opinion.

    Besides who would want to see Arcade Fire when David Guetta is gonna be pressing play on his CDJ for an hour and a half.

  • I really enjoyed ’em last night regardless of the small crowd. It was better than a load of dopes just standing around so they can say they were there like blur last year. The crowd destroyed that performance last year for me.

  • Oh fair play on the excellent and speedy coverage of the weekend.

  • John

    I wish EP and Oxegen would just have a little sit down and logicially work out their bills in future. EP should have traded Mumford and Sons for the AC! hehe. I am curious what the Dirty Projectors turnout is like.. two people?

  • John

    The AF even.

  • JD

    I would have enjoyed Jay Z a whole lot more if his audience wasn’t such an arsehole zoo. As for Arcade Fire, they were great, and I couldn’t care less who missed out on them. They still haven’t quite smoothed out the distinction between their older stuff and their newer stuff though, it’s really jarring when they change songs.

  • Ian

    They didn’t shorten their set. They’ve been playing 17-18 song 85 minute sets for the entirity of the tour.

  • Sorry guys, just dropping in before heading back to the site… Thanks for all the feedback. The shortened set comment was in reference to the two hour slot they were penciled in for on the schedule. Couldn’t agree more that they should have been at another festival, though. Still enjoyed it a whole lot myself.

  • Dirty Projectors turn out was very poor btw John, just about to write that up now. I’d guess that was actually about 200.

  • Michael

    I wouldn’t call arcade fire experimental but ye i don’t think they were the right choice to headline this year….. maybe another album or two down the road again and they’ll be back too nail it.

  • Hamburger

    The AF were excellent on Friday night, small crowd but everyone loved it, highlight of the weekend, just not appreciated at oxegen

  • Niamh

    Just a note to add to this. I thought they were fantastic. We were right up the front from before the end of Jay Z (not wanting to be stuck at the back for Arcade Fire we were a victim of some not very mutually complimentary scheduling on the main stage) so were oblivious to the small crowd. If they were bothered by the size of crowd, they didn’t show it, and had us all jumping up and down, and grinning like lunatics. Well worth the trip to Oxegen to see them, but hoping that we’ll be graced with them at EP next time!

  • KP

    i have to say that there was a big enough crowd much like the crowd ther wud be for a 7 pm act.

    arcade fire were undoubtedly the best band of my weekend, truely amazing and the atmosphere was immense!
    look forward to them returning to ireland!

  • Patrick

    Only got a one day ticket to oxegen, the friday night just to see Arcade Fire and Vampire Weekend. Got right up to the stage barrier after VW and had to suffer through stereophonics in order not to loose the great spot. Wasn’t really excited about Jay-Z but have to admit he was brilliant.

    Arcade Fire were unreal! im a massive fan but this was my first time to see them live. Thought it was dangerous playing so many new songs but they were brilliant and can’t wait to the album comes out. The oxegen crowd seemed more up for drinking and mainstream music so the turn out for AF was no suprise. The people that did go to see them enjoyed there slot though, i know i did! If the play an individual gig later in the year it will draw a bigger crowd esp. with the new album, if not a slightly intimate gig at a smaller venue will be amaxing for the fans.

    Rebellion (Lies) was special!

  • Ciara

    Absolutely fantastic. Managed to get on barier thanks to all the Jay Z fans leaving. It was a magical experience. I honestly think it would have been better to release the album before headlning a main stage but it worked well in the end. Pity about the low turn out.

    I was also dissapointed at the low turnout for Laura Marling. There was about 50 people there. She was beautiful as always.

  • It really was superb wasnt it. Ive been dying to see this band since they released the debut. Finally realizing it was something very, very special.

  • rob pot

    that was the best gig i was at over the whole weekend. i was up the front so i didn’t notice the lack of people. shame about the turnout, would have done better in the green spheres tent i think