KANPE Karnaval @ Métropolis, March 15th, 2017

On March 15th, KANPE held it’s 5th annual Karnaval, with the one and only Arcade Fire headlining the event. Co-founded by Regine Chassagne, principal member of Arcade Fire, KANPE is an organization that works in Haïti to help those who are facing extreme financial poverty. Meaning “Stand Up,” KANPE helps vulnerable families to reach financial autonomy.

As Arcade Fire had not performed in Montreal since 2014, I felt it was my moral obligation to see them. The last time I saw Arcade Fire play a show was at during their Reflektor Tour, when they played at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. During that show, myself and fellow volunteers were invited to dance on stage during their performance of “Here Comes the Night Time.” While I don’t think any concert can top that experience, I was still excited to attend the show and see my favorite band in their hometown.

The event started off with a DJ set and volunteers circulating through the forming crowd. The first official act was Fwonte, which got the crowd moving and ready to dance. Following Fwonte was Tito Marechai, who slowed things down a bit with songs pulled from reggae and blues roots. Following that was a couple of songs from Pierre Kwenders, who got the crowd moving again with his exotic dance moves. He also rocked one of the coolest outfits by far out of any other artist. Before Coeur de Pirate took the stage, a RaRa band (festival music from Haïti) played their way through the crowd. Coeur de Pirate played a solo performance, and even went for a cover of Drake’s “Hold on, We’re Going Home.”

Before Arcade Fire came out, Jason Sudeikis and Anne-Marie Withenshaw, the event's hosts, said a few words thanking everyone for coming and introducing the headliners. Shortly after, Arcade Fire took the stage and the first thing Win Butler said was, “Fuck Donald Trump for 1,000 years!” His words immediately led into a performance of “Windowsill,” a song they haven’t performed since 2008. Being from the States, I felt the emotional turmoil that resonated in the room as the crowd sang, “I don’t want to live in America no more.” After their heart wrenching performance of “Windowsill,” Regine Chassagne took the main mic to sing “Haïti,” alongside Haitian dancers. Her sparkling sequin fringe dress was hypnotic and mesmerizing. This launched into their performance of “Sprawl II: Mountains Beyond Mountains,” one of my all-time favorite Arcade Fire songs. Again, Regine stole the crowd with her dance moves and childlike charm.

However, the songs that blew me away the most were “Afterlife” and “Neighborhood #3: Power Out.” Win Butler ended “Afterlife” by falling to his knees as he sang out the lyrics, “It’s just an afterlife with you.” “Power Out” is also one of the those songs that you have to see live. It creates such an energy between the band and the crowd; it’s nearly impossible not to headband or jump during that song. With a huge snowstorm hitting Montreal that day, the feelings of “Power Out” felt even more real.

I’ve seen Arcade Fire three times now, and I have to say this was the most energetic and emotional performance of theirs I have ever seen. I’ve heard in the past that they enjoy playing smaller gigs as opposed to big venues like Barclays Center, and it shows. The energy in the room was electric from both the audience and the band. Although they try to recreate the same energy at their bigger shows, their smaller shows have a more intimate feel and bring the songs to life. Since they were playing in their hometown, I think the emotion was much higher. For me, Win Butler gave a performance that was passionate, something I hadn’t seen the last two times I attended an Arcade Fire show.