Arcade Fire Hz

Montreal big-hit-extreme The Arcade Fire will be playing a Haitian benefit show at The Danforth Music Hall on April 27th. I haven't seen them since that Sloan concert on Olympic Island in the summer and I can't wait to see them at a smaller venue than the whole great out of doors.

Tickets are $20.00 and will benefit a charity in Haiti, but when Newslang posted on 20hz.ca about the show they neglected to mention the charity angle (which, to be fair, isn't mentioned on the promoter's website either). Within two days the thread had more than a thousand views and more than twenty replies, many of which went along the lines of "Seating, and 20 bucks? Ouch, no thanks".

Y'see, us folks in the Toronto indie music scene are mighty spoiled by cheap rock show prices. I blame Wavelength for being "Pay What You Can", even with a monthly zine to print and a five year reputation for greatness. Approximately one year ago I saw The Arcade Fire play in a basement for $5 bucks, and just four months ago, or so, they'd played a show at Lee's Palace for $8. Of course, since then they've sold out good sized venues in New York (with David Bowie and David Byrne in attendance) and played on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, but that's no excuse to take advantage of your 'friends' in Toronto, or so the naysayers say.

I don't want to get into some kind of essay about the performer/audience dynamic in tightly knit arts scenes, but I think part of the knee-jerk reaction to the jump in ticket price is due to the fact that we're used to standing in line at the bar between sets along with that night's talent. Bands like The Creeping Nobodies, Broken Social Scene, The Constantines and The Arcade Fire feel like classmates, if not actually close friends of ours. Imagine seeing your sister's friend's band play at the school Talent Show in June, and then being asked to pay $20 the next time you want to see them. Kinda feels like they're turning their backs on you.

But the controversy is kind of a non-controversy. Most of the people who reacted negatively to the ticket price revoked their revulsion when they learned it was a benefit show and as Win Butler said in one of his posts on the thread: "Our CD release was at a church with pewes, and you can still stand up and move around." So that pretty well silenced the complaints about seats.

Five bucks, twelve bucks, twenty bucks, whatever. The Arcade Fire are certainly worth every penny, and the only irritant I can see is that the show isn't within walking distance of my house. I'm not going to complain about the cost because if I had only just begun listening to The Arcade Fire I would gladly pay $20 to see them. I just consider myself blessed that I was able to see them so many times for less than $10.

And isn't that one of the many thrills of being active in a city's local music scene; to watch the bands you love develop and mature and see them go on to greater success? If a band can sell out a 1500 seat venue then they should certainly book it. It's just a shame that with larger venues come higher ticket prices, but in this case we've heard directly from the people involved that it's not simply a matter of supply and demand. This is not Paul Mcartney charging $300 just because he can, this show will benefit much more than just the band and promoter.

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