I never expected to be watching Arcade Fire play from backstage, but when the production team called for “all hands on deck,” no one could argue. There to assist with the grand finale—launching some 2,000 LED-enhanced blow-up beach balls into the crowd—we were all giddy at the prospect of taking part in their performance. The idea for the visual spectacle, developed by director Chris Milk (who the band previously worked with on “The Wilderness Downtown”), was to release these balls in time for Arcade Fire’s encore and use the embedded LEDs and IR transmitters to light paint all over the audience.
A crane positioned at the top of the stage was set up to let the balls drop during the band’s last song, “Wake Up,” and our job was to throw them into the crowd and make sure they stayed there. There was also a giant cage to the right of the stage filled with hundreds more that we were responsible for tossing into the audience, which proved to be no easy task given that they were an unwieldy two or three feet in diameter. When the the balls finally did drop, the entire place turned into an epic ball pit, with these giant balls flying all over the place, changing colors all the while from red to blue to orange to pink. (My apologies to the people in the front who may have been pummeled in the face with a beach ball or two—my bad!). Standing on stage and taking it all in, it certainly was a sight to behold.
The interactive visual performance, entitled Summer Into Dust continues online. Those lucky few who managed to catch a ball can log on to the accompanying website and continue the experience. Each ball comes with a URL where fans can locate a user manual online and connect their ball to a greater community