This summer, Arcade Fire picks up in the live arena exactly where it left off after taking a two-year hiatus. The world tour for "Neon Bible" began in early 2007 with multi-night runs at tiny churches in Montreal, London and New York and ended a year later having notched 122 shows (including 33 festivals) in 75 cities in 15 countries. Until the three, small June warm-up gigs in Toronto and Montreal, the band's only live appearances since the "Neon Bible" tour ended were four get-out-the-vote gigs for then-candidate Barack Obama's campaign in Ohio and North Carolina, and on inauguration night Arcade Fire shared the stage with Jay-Z at the Obama for America Staff Ball at the Armory in Washington, D.C.
The "Suburbs" tour will find the band playing less frequently and in larger venues. "They know that an Arcade Fire show is a cathartic experience for the band and for the audience," Viecelli says. "The band really is laying it out there emotionally onstage, investing a ton of energy and heart, and they realized that if they do that for too long or too much, they can't maintain that genuine performance level."
Shed shows in Boston, Philadelphia, Nashville, Atlanta and Columbia, Va., comprise most of the U.S. gigs on the books for 2010. In New York, an Aug. 4 show at Madison Square Garden sold out so quickly that a second show was added the next night. More North American shows are in the works for later this year, and in 2011 the band will do some more overseas touring, including Australia, New Zealand and Japan. But Viecelli expects there will be plenty of leftover demand for more Arcade Fire shows.
At Lollapalooza in Chicago's Grant Park -- to be held Aug. 6-8 this year with an expanded capacity of 80,000 people per day -- Arcade Fire shares top-line billing with Lady Gaga, the Strokes, Phoenix and Green Day and will close the festival's final night by going head to head with the reunited Soundgarden.
Lollapalooza promoter Powell, who along with C3 Presents partner Charles Attal is responsible for filling more than 130 slots on the festival's grid each year, first saw Arcade Fire in 2004 at Austin's 1,000-capacity club Emo's Outdoors.
"We were completely blown away," says Powell, who immediately booked the band for the rejuvenated Lollapalooza in Chicago the following summer and gave it a subheadlining slot right before the Killers on the main stage. "They probably stole the show of the whole festival," he says. "We saw that performance and knew that they were a headliner. They're in that rarified group of bands that we talk to 365 days a year."
"This band has always been ready," Viecelli says. "From the start, we kept stepping things up, moving them to bigger and bigger rooms, bigger and bigger stages. Common sense told me that at some point they would hit a level that they couldn't completely rule, that they would hit the limit of their abilities -- their current experience and production obstruction. They never did. They just never did."
One result of the close-knit approach is the members' ability to maintain an air of mystique and secrecy about their personal lives. You're not going to find any of them discussing their daily routines on Twitter. Yet, even though they've maintained a wall of privacy, the connection fans feel with them is personal and intense.
"I don't know if I'm old-fashioned, but I feel like the fan relationship involves putting out records," Butler says. "We've always really tried to connect with our audience when we play live. We don't take it lightly to go onstage and play. It's the DNA of what this band does and we couldn't exist in the same way without that."