What Went Wrong At Reading Festival: Arcade Fire vs. Guns N’ Roses

After watching two NME videos about The Arcade Fire and Guns N’ Roses from Reading Festival, I’m certain that the fan experience doesn’t get any more polar opposite than this.

On one side, angry live music fans spoke loud and clear about how much they loathed and hated Guns N’ Roses’s performance and the ridiculous aftermath. Then on the other side, The Arcade Fire spoke candidly and genuinely about how much they value the connection between them and their fans.  So what does this mean for fans of both bands?

What happened at Reading Festival is nothing new. I’ve seen this happen many times at summer music festivals. One band will put on a great show, while on another stage, a train wreck ensues as confusion and disappointment conquers another band’s set.

And when I watched the NME fan reaction video about the Guns N’ Roses fiasco and then watched the Arcade Fire interview, I was amazed at the striking difference between what the fans said about Guns ‘N Roses in the interview versus the genuineness with which the members of the Arcade Fire spoke about their concern about connecting with their fans in the wake of their increased popularity and playing larger arenas.

And, you know what? The difference I noticed between the two videos interviews makes complete sense.

Because when you look at what happened during the Guns N’ Roses protest (see above video), which Axl Rose tried to explain yesterday, it becomes very obvious why things happened the way they did at Reading.

And you can’t deny the fact that each band is heading in an opposite trajectory when it comes to their music and the relationship they have with their fans.

Simply put, The Arcade Fire are a band on its way to higher ground, while Guns N’ Roses sadly continues its tailspin before the band ultimately crashes and burns.

More importantly, the Arcade Fire not only have honed their live show, they also know how to connect with their fans in a unique and personal way.

And by doing so, they demonstrate how much they value the close emotional connection fans experience during the their live show.  And if you’ve seen the Arcade Fire live you know what I mean. It’s almost like a sacred ceremonial exchange between the fans and the band. You can hear the emotional connection, feel it in the music and see it in the way the band behaves and engages with each other on stage.

Again — judging by what happened at Reading Festival — when it comes to connecting with fans through the live music experience Guns N’ Roses has clearly lost its edge.

They should stop touring and take a closer look at what other intimate experiences The Arcade Fire is giving to their fans.

Getting Even More Intimate with The Wilderness Downtown

Following up the successful release of their latest album The Suburbs, the Arcade Fire recently released an interactive HTML5 Google Chrome film experiment at thewildernessdowntown.com.

Making  creative  and forward-thinking move like this shows me that the band want to push limits and use cutting-edge technology to spread their music ever further to new audiences. But this type of experience also shows that the band wants to use the Wilderness Downtown experience to make the connection between their fans even more intimate than it already is.

Arcade Fire Wilderness Downtown

And that intimacy is something that cannot be bought. It can only be earned. And they’ve earned it from me.

And I hope they do find a way to translate the Wilderness Downtown into a live show social experience similar to what Recreate My Night did with the Constellations or Big Live has done for virtual concert fans watching at home.

Who knows? Maybe we’ll see a Layar Augmented Reality mobile app version of the Wilderness Downtown released soon? I’m definitely going to add it to our Improving Lollapalooza List for next year.

Can The Arcade Fire Be Extinguished?

If the Arcade Fire keep putting on shows like they did at Lollapalooza 2010, I have little concern that they will have problems connecting with their audience during the show. I was curious about the same that connection before I saw them at Lollapalooza 2010, which is why I stood on the edge of the crowd and didn’t go into the massive clump of fans in front of the stage. I wanted to see if front man Win Butler and company could mesmerize me from afar.

The Distance Test is one of the experiments I like to do when I want to see if a band can truly project their music and make their live show emotion go beyond the stage.

And if the band can amaze me from afar (minus the jumbo video screens and any sound issues) then I know the band is really putting on a show that’s not only resonating with fans in the first few rows, but all the fans throughout the venue.

And that’s the type of show that fans deserve. And that’s the type of show that The Arcade Fire gave thousands of fans at Lollapalooza 2010. And the way Win Butler interacted with the crowd was an excellent example of leadership in live music.

That said, I don’t think the Arcade Fire have anything to worry about if that’s how all their shows will be.

Can we say the same for Axl Rose and his “backing band” Guns ‘N Roses? Nope. And it’s really sad to say that. Because it’s never fun to see a once great rock band reduced a one man show that’s going nowhere.

But Axl Rose gives fans no choice  but to feel let down when he shows up an hour late to the concert, waits nearly 15 years to put out an album that wasn’t very good, and then proceeds to stage a silly protest during the show.

Reading Festival’s Reputation for Legendary Shows

Awful or amazing, Reading has been the scene for many legendary concert moments like Live at Reading when Kurt Cobain rolled out in a wheelchair in 1992 and then lead Nirvana in giving fans a concert experience they never forgot. Now, I’d like to watch a fan reaction video after that show. And I wonder what Cobain would have said about the connection between the band and the audience during that performance.

Make Your Own Reaction Video

Were you at Reading Music Festival to see the Arcade Fire and Guns ‘N Roses?
Tell your story and let us know what you thought of both performances and share your other Reading concert experiences in the comments below. Check out more exclusive Live Fix fan interviews here.

Or…

If you’re on YouTube and want to make your own reaction video please do and leave a link to the video on the comments.

Quick Question About The Wilderness

Have you tried out the Arcade Fire’s  Wilderness Downtown? I did and I wasn’t able to view either of my childhood addresses or my current address because the Google Maps said the street view didn’t have enough info to render an image. I was only able to put in the Chicago Cubs Wrigley Field address and virtually cruise around Wrigleyville. Which was still lots of fun and pretty cool. So how was your experience using it?

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  • Scandloon_2000

    That’s a lot of words to basically say “I like the Arcade Fire, I don’t like Guns n’ Roses.”

    Trying to say that the key difference between these two bands, and the reason why the Arcade Fire are growing in popularity and Guns n’ Roses are going down in popularity, is because the Arcade Fire make an “emotional connection” with their audience, is ridiculous.

    You’re comparing a young band reaching the peak of their songwriting powers at a time when the style of music they play has become extremely popular to a band that saw its peak more than 20 years ago playing a harder rock style that simply doesn’t get anywhere near the same type of attention as “indie” rock these days.

    You’re also comparing a relatively sedate band (there’s a reason people jokingly refer to Win Butler as a mortician) to a band led by a man that, as talented as he may be, is without a doubt extremely outspoken at best and terribly unstable at worst. If you’re looking for the reason why GnR shows have been collapsing into chaos, look no further than Axl Rose.

    None of this has anything to do with either band’s “emotional” connection to their audience. I like Arcade Fire, but nothing they’ve written since “Funeral” has “connected” with me beyond coming across as a nice song here and there. On the other hand, I’m one of the few who quite enjoyed (not loved, but enjoyed) “Chinese Democracy”, and because I was listening to it a lot at a pretty pivotal time in my life in late 2008, that album actually DOES have something of an emotional connection with me.

    Oh, and one last point… Guns n’ Roses were never about “emotional connection” anyway. No one went to Guns n’ Roses shows in the late 80’s or early 90’s for an emotional connection with Axl, Slash or anyone else. They went to hear dirty rock and roll. The current band may not be anywhere near as good as GnR 20 years ago, but complaining that they don’t make an emotional connection with their fans is completely missing the point.

  • http://christophercatania.com Chris Catania

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Yes, you’re right i did spill a lot to get my point across. Sometimes it takes a few extra words to explain why I like a band. I really appreciated your insights to Axl’s behavior and I also appreciate your comments about feeling emotionally connected to Chinese Democracy.

    For me, The Arcade Fire are an important bad for many reasons, one of which is because when Funeral came out several of my friends died within a short amount of time so I see the album as a beautiful and brilliant opus for families dealing with death, grief and mourning. And the recent album The Suburbs has similar but themes that speak to the human condition in a real way, and I am yet again in season where the Arcade Fire’s music, songwriting and message meets me right where I’m at. And it sounds like Chinese Democracy did the same for you. I’ll have to take another pass at it again to see what I might have missed. And I love to hear more about that if you’d like to share. And in case you were wondering, some of my favorite all-time songs are GNR tunes, so wouldn’t say that i hate GNR, I’m just sad that things are where they are at. No one likes to see a great band end up like GNR has.

    Again, I thank you for coming and visiting Live Fix. And, as always, the topics and posts are an ongoing experiment that depends a lot on great comments like yours. Your comments have made me think more about what I wrote and I hope you enjoy the rest of what explore on Live Fix.

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