To a lot of music fans across the world, when they think of Montreal and music, they immediately think of Arcade Fire. It’s a fair association. Arcade Fire won the Grammy for album of the year in 2011 and seemingly became one of the biggest bands of the world. Arcade Fire members can constantly be seen walking around Montreal, visiting Montreal cafes and bars and restaurants, and are generally really involved in the local music scene. They talk about Montreal a lot in interviews. When they play shows in Montreal, they sell out immediately. Yet, there seems to be certain resistance to their music among Montreal’s music fans in 2017.
In Cult MTL’s annual Best of MTL polls, Arcade Fire constantly rank as Montreal’s most pretentious band. I went to a screening of Arcade Fire’s documentary at Pop Montreal in 2015 and frontman Win Butler gave a speech about how it is good to be pretentious. Sometimes people call things pretentious when they just don’t like the thing, or when they find the artist annoying.
Often when I’m in public and an Arcade Fire song comes on, Montrealers seem to laugh or make snide comments. When Arcade Fire recently released a new single, the response seemed to be “who cares?” Maybe it’s because it feels too typical: hearing the famous Montreal band in Montreal. Maybe it’s their unbearably indie vibes compared with their massive success and ubiquitousness. Maybe people in Montreal are tired of the Montreal that Arcade Fire seem to present to the world, or maybe the tunes just aren’t any good any more.