Sing the Chorus Again

by Ryan

Arcade Fire won Album of the Year at the Grammys on Sunday night, much to the dismay of music fans who have no idea who they are. As a pretty big fan of the band, I was pleased by the results.

I’m not as much of a “music guy” as it seems liking a band like that implies. The truth of the matter is that when I started listening to Arcade Fire it just made a lot of sense to do so.

I bought Neon Bible, the band’s second album, during the spring semester of my freshman year of college. I heard “No Cars Go” on the radio once or twice and knew “Wake Up” and a few other songs and figured I should give it a shot.

I was a big fan of what I heard, but more than anything I grew attached to that album because it was great to listen to while reading Parable of the Sower, required reading for one of my literature classes. It was post-apocalyptic and weird and that’s sort of what Neon Bible sounds like. It was a perfect match.

Their catalog has expanded since then, and while The Suburbs is an excellent work I’m not so sure I would be an Arcade Fire fan if not for when and where I started listening to them. If not for Octavia Butler’s novel and my ability to read while listening to music, my iPod would be filled with very different songs right now.

The problem is that I can’t relate to “The Suburbs” in the way a lot of people can. Take The Wilderness Downtown, the interactive music video the band launched that uses your childhood home while We Used to Wait plays.

It’s a neat little feature that really gets at the heart of what that album is about, but the problem is that when I type in my address into the box I see the same thing on the screen as I see out my own window. I’ve lived in the same house all my life, on the outskirts of a city that used to be pretty big in its own right. The nostalgia an album like that is hoping for just isn’t there with me, the connection is lost.

But my relationship with the band is different now anyways. I’ve heard their other albums and got involved in their music through a different portal. I’m going to like what they put out anyway because I’m already involved and although they are different now, well, so am I.

A few hours before the Grammys I saw the Sabres lose a home game where they scored six goals and Drew Stafford had half of them. My girlfriend had managed really good seats in the 200s and somehow we went with her brother and Phil from Blue Black & Gold.

We had Flying Bison and hung out after the game and showed up extremely late. It was a very, very different experience at the arena than I’m used to and it was odd to be okay with the Sabres throwing away a point given the outcome of the day itself.

Looking back on my Sunday made me think about why I’m a Sabres fan and what that means about me. When I really connected with the team was just after the lockout, and the emotional height came my senior year of high school. When the Sabres fell short against Carolina it hit me harder than any loss because deep down I knew things would never be the same, both for me and the team itself.

Things haven’t been the same since that day, but I suppose that’s an inevitable truth. For as much as I’ve talked about what the current Sabres are missing, sitting in section 208 on Sunday made me realize just how much I have in common with this team. We both are a bit inconsistent and probably need a shake up to really get going. There are certain parts worth saving while others clearly serve no purpose.

But the dead weight is part of the package, part of what makes the whole thing go. Talking to Kevin after the game on Sunday brought about an odd conclusion from an odd day: The Sabres are almost certainly going to make the playoffs.

The way they get there isn’t really known, and maybe it’s a different group of guys that get into the top eight in March but it’s going to happen with this team, isn’t it? Four points out with three games in hand and plenty of time to get Miller right or add a scoring threat to the rotation.

Jeremy White equated the positive vibes about the team to the wind chill, with the “real feel” that the Sabres are in the top eight despite sitting in tenth. That sounds right these days, and after some truly awful stretches this season it seems silly to consider them a sure bet for spring hockey.

This is definitely not the team I grew up with, but maybe that’s just it.


  1. wally

    Also huge fan of the Arcade Fire. Loved that they got the grammy. The reason I love the Suburbs (even though I did feel isolated living in the Suburbs) wasnt so much as nostalgia, but the feel of that particular album. The album set out to be big and sprawly and (almost gawdy), like the suburbs itself and in my mind accomplishes just that. And, like the Sabres I have a hard time being disappointed any of these teams/albums. I did not have huge hopes for the team going into the season (mainly because we just had our 2nd child and I knew from the 1st that I wasn’t going to have alot of time to watch). So, when I get to go to a game, I can take a very take it or leave it approach. For instance, I left the previous Islanders game (the one in which Gerbe scored 2 goals back to back) because there was some loud-mouth in my section and I hear enough yelling at home. However, I stuck around for this one because it was an exciting, fun game to watch. That’s where I am at with music too. It needs to be worth my time to listen to and I feel that the Arcade Fire always makes music worth listening to.

  2. wally


    I used to wait, is definitely my favorite song on the album and although my parents have lived in the house I grew up in for 33 years and will probably die there, I thought the “wilderness” video was pure genius and left myself a message.