- Ryan R. McNutt
Canadian indie rock band. With captivating live performances and acclaimed recordings, the Montreal-based multi-instrumentalist group stood at the forefront of indie rock’s ascendency in the 2000s, growing from internet fanbase to festival-headlining slots over the decade. Often augmented by friends and touring members live, the core band consists of husband and wife Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, with Will Butler, Richard Reed Parry, Tim Kingsbury, Sarah Neufeld, and Jeremy Gara.
Formed in 2001 in Montreal, Québec—where the Texas-born Butler brothers attended school and met Chassagne, the daughter of Haitian immigrants—Arcade Fire quickly earned a local cult following that exploded upon the release of Funeral, its 2004 debut (Merge Records). An ecstatic review on the popular music website Pitchfork is often cited as the catalyst, though the band capitalized on that enthusiasm with its theatrical live show. Soaring melodies and anthemic, singalong hooks earned the album endorsements from David Bowie, David Byrne, and U2, all of whom have since performed with the band.
The follow-up, Neon Bible, recorded in a church that the band transformed into a recording studio, earned similar acclaim in 2007, and 2010’s The Suburbs proved the band’s big breakthrough; topping the Billboard album chart upon its release, its sprawling sound led to headline shows at the Coachella and Bonnaroo festivals, sell out shows at Madison Square Garden, and Grammy and Juno Awards for Album of the Year. Though the band ranked among the world’s most popular alternative bands, its members continued to operate with a DIY model, owning their recordings and rarely licensing their music out to commercial endeavors except to explicitly support charitable work, most notably relief efforts following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
- D. Frey: “One Very, Very Indie Band,” New York Times Magazine (4 Mar 2007)
- D. Fricke: “The Unstoppable Ambition of Arcade Fire,” Rolling Stone (Aug 2010), 52–84
- J. Wray: “The View from the Top,” Spin Magazine (Oct 2010), 44–50