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Music

Arcade Fire wins Polaris Prize before playing free show for Pop Montreal on Thursday

Posted by Andrés / September 20, 2011

20110920_arcadefire.jpgThe Arcade Fire walked away with the Polaris Prize for best Canadian album last night, simultaneously meeting and defying expectations. There is no doubt that the critical acclaim for The Suburbs, including a win for Best Album at both the Grammy's and Juno's, makes it worthy of the top spot. The album, their third and best since Funeral, is also their most consistent in theme. It steers clear of sporadic catchy anthems and instead provides a continual and progressive rock that tells stories of suburban living, angst, sprawl and escape. It is an artistic achievement, despite its critical and commercial success. This is likely where the win has defied some expectations.

Polaris has a history of highlighting up-and-coming bands, or albums that tend not to hit international billboards or win prizes like the Grammy's or Juno's. The fact that a band like Arcade Fire can garner all three seems to irk some who place an artistic gulf between a prize like Polaris and a prize like Grammy. There is a common misconception that art and success cannot co-exist, that mass consumerism is something different: spurred by public relations and novelty. In a note both to congratulate the other nominees, and in anticipation of the above debate, Win Butler may have put it best on stage last night. "It doesn't matter if you've heard of the band, it could still be the best thing ever. And if you have heard of them, it doesn't mean it sucks." So if you were among those people who liked Arcade Fire until they won their Grammy, I think what he's saying is that it's okay to like them again.

It's important in all this talk of the winner, not to forget the amazing Canadian/Québécois talent amongst the other nominees. Bands and artists included Austra, Braids, Destroyer, Galaxie, Hey Rosetta!, Ron Sexsmith, Colin Stetson, Timber Timbre and The Weeknd. You can read more about each and listen to samples of their music at the Polaris Music Prize website.

Lest ye forget, the Arcade Fire play Metropolis this Wednesday. The show is sold out and the organizers have made it a near impossibility to get scalper tickets. To made amends, Arcade Fire play a free outdoor show at the Quartier des Spectacles at Place des Arts. Their act is preceded by Karkwa, last year's Polaris Prize winner, and the party gets started by Kid Koala.

Image courtesy Andrew Vaughan, Canadian Press.

Discussion

7 Comments

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