A few weeks before CMJ 2013, a poster promoting 2 upcoming performances of a band named “The Reflektors” was spotted in Brooklyn. The shows would take place on October 18th and 19th at mysterious venue 299 Meserole Street. There were rumblings that The Reflektors were actually a pseudonym for Arcade Fire, and the concerts would serve as promotion of their forthcoming album Reflektor.
As the shows approached, this was more or less confirmed when those who had pre-ordered Reflektor got first dibs on the concert presale. Naturally, the show sold out minutes after the tickets were released to the general public. Once they were gone, scalpers had a field day, with tickets listed for upwards of $200-$500 on Stubhub and Craigslist (and even $5,000 at one point).
I scored my ticket for the October 18th show through a friend who had a coveted pre-sale code, and she was gracious enough to charge me a reasonable amount. Before the crowd was let in, people wearing papier-mâché heads fashioned after Arcade Fire members (as seen in the Reflektor video) exited a limo to enter the venue. They were there to greet us when we were finally let inside, dancing awkwardly as we filtered in. We weren’t sure if it was the band, but some of the audience members joined them to dance.
There was a stage in the center of the room, complete with a disco ball and a lighted projection “The Reflektors” on the wall. Adding to its mystique, there was a dress code for the show, and attendees were required to dress in costume or formal attire. This led to an odd-looking crowd, with people in silly costumes standing next to men in tuxedos. Once more and more people filtered in, the heat was overwhelming. We waited for what felt like an eternity when James Murphy (who produced Reflektor) finally appeared on stage to introduce the band. The papier-mâché headed people came on stage and started to play. Moments after they appeared, to our left, an unassuming black curtain we hadn’t noticed was removed, and the real show began with the band members set up on stage there.
Chaos ensued when the crowd realized that they had been duped with a decoy stage. There was a mad rush to the real stage, leaving the crowd even more densely packed than it was before. It was a nightmare. I lost my friend when this happened, and swiftly exited the madness. It was much less crowded near the exit, so I found a decent spot near there.
The show, mostly consisting of songs from Reflektor was very electronic-heavy, and clearly a departure from Arcade Fire’s previous work. The band referred to themselves as The Reflektors during the entire show. When they did play 2 old songs (“Neighborhood #3, Power Out” and “Sprawl II”), they claimed they were covering Arcade Fire. I’m not sure why they insisted on keeping up with the shtick. Ten songs and 75 minutes later, the band left the stage. The entire audience was waited to see if there would be an encore, but eventually lead singer Win Butler came back on stage to tell us the show was over. He commented on how awkward it was that we were staring at any empty stage, asking us to stop waiting around and start dancing. Right before he left the stage, he stated that he would join the audience on the dance floor later, hoping that it would be a sufficient end to the night.
Although the music was fantastic, I was very disappointed by the show that night. The entire experience left a bad taste in my mouth. It was far too hot, and the fake stage prank was ridiculous. Win thought it would be funny to have a phony stage. However, it was not amusing for the fans. The people who waited the longest in line ended up being in the very back behind stragglers who arrived late. It’s safe to say that the show did not live up to the hype.
At least I scored a set list: