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Live music review: Arcade Fire - Austin360 Amp vs Phi Slamma Jamma - Continental

Arcade Fire at Austin360 Amphitheater and Phi Slamma Jamma at The Continental Club

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The Arcade Fire stopped in Austin yesterday at the Austin360 Amphitheater as the high-flying rockers from Montreal continued their endless tour supporting last year's acclaimed "Reflektor" album. The band also booked a "secret" after show at Continental Club under the name Phi Slamma Jamma. That show began after midnight and included DJ sets by frontman, Win Butler listed as DJ Windows 98 on the Continental's web site. Both performances were impressive but Phi Slamma Jamma's set featuring Will Butler on vocals and bass felt more appropriate for Austin with less pomp and a more irreverent, blowing steam off kind of atmosphere.

Arcade Fire and Phi Slamma Jamma
Arcade Fire and Phi Slamma Jamma
Ashley Cass via Instagram

Arcade Fire took the stage at Austin360 Amphitheater just after 9 p.m. with typical DIY, art-rock accoutrements. A suited figure wearing a Barack Obama bobble head appeared on stage with another person wearing a suit and a square LCD screen with Texas Governor Rick Perry who welcomed the crowd to the show and lead the band in a rendition of "Deep in the Heart of Texas" as other bobbleheaded musicians (The Lost Bayou Ramblers) played along.

With a gaggle of musicians on stage the intro devolved into what sounded like tuning instruments then the band headed into opener, "Normal Person." When their latest album's title track "Reflektor" was played two songs later it felt as though the 10-piece band hit it's stride. The influence of album producer James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem) was apparent as the new tune emphasized eletronic drum beats while touring percussionists fleshed out the rythmn.

Perhaps the highlight of the performance was Butler's wife, Régine Chassagne took over vocal duties appearing behind the crowd on a raised platform. Chassagne lead the group through "Afterlife" with a creepy costume-clad skeleton behind her. Video shots of the French-Canadian were superimposed on top of video of the band on the big screen behind them. The group segued into "It's Never Over (Oh Orpheus)" with its full-bodied chorus then Chassagne reappeared on stage for a silky rendition of Blondie's "Heart of Gold" (see video).

After a brief break, Win Butler appeared back on stage wearing a Pope bobblehead singing Prince's "Controversy" continuing the dance party that launched with "Reflektor." Arcade Fire followed that with "Here Comes the Night Time" punctuated by showers of confetti over the crowd and stage. The set closed with "Wake Up" which got the crowd singing along to the chorus as the band switched to acoustic instruments and joined the audience for an epic closing jam.

Setlist:

Normal Person
Rebellion (Lies)
Reflektor
Flashbulb Eyes
Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)
The Suburbs
The Suburbs (Continued)
Ready to Start
Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
No Cars Go
We Exist
My Body Is a Cage (stripped-down shortened version)
Afterlife
It's Never Over (Oh Orpheus)
Heart of Glass
(Blondie cover)
Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
Encore:
Controversy (Prince cover)
Here Comes the Night Time
Wake Up (The band paraded through the crowd singing it)

Phi Slamma Jamma's show at Austin's legendary Continental Club was crammed with local music scenesters last night while Win Butler spun tunes from a DJ station set-up behind the sound board near the front of the club. Anticipation was high for the all covers set the stripped-down band of Will Butler, Jeremy Gara (drums), Tim Kingsbury (guitar) and Richard Reed Perry (guitar). The set featured heavy, jangly guitars in songs like The Beatles' "Run for Your Life", The Ramones' "I Don't Want to Go Down to the Basement" and Modern Lovers' "Government Center."

The set had a loose, free-flowing feel to it that fans simply cannot experience in a larger arena setting. Seeing Butler and Perry dressed in white with bright sneakers while the rest of the band was clad in black attire gave them an authentic air of a backing band.

It was all about playing a fun, irreverent set until fans tried to video set-closer, "The Last Time" (Rolling Stones). Both Butler brothers tried to slap down the phones of fans during the song's performance. Will graciously checked with folks near the front of the stage to make sure no one was injured after the the set ended. So there was that.

After the set ended the tension also moved on as some of the crowd dispersed, Win Butler resumed his post on the decks and kept the party going with a mix of eighties beats, old school hip-hop and more recent electronica. Kid Koala took over while the Arcade Fire front man (and the rest of the band) visited with fans while swilling bottles of Lone Star. It felt like any old night at the Continental except the musicians were members of one of the planet's most popular bands at the moment.