What happens when you combine an outside of mainstream indie outfit, terrible album reviews, and a marketing campaign that could generously be referred to as ‘eccentric’ – if not outright weird?
Ask Arcade Fire.
The onetime darlings of the alt-rock scene from early efforts like 2004’s Funeral (full disclosure – a personal favorite album of mine), the Canadian band has seen anemic crowds for its tour in support of “Everything Now.” According to The Globe and Mail, the numbers are pretty jaw-dropping for an arena tour:
Just 4,263 fans showed up for the Canadian band’s Quebec City show, 4,004 in Tampa, 5,614 in Austin, Tex., and 5,051 in Dallas, Billboard and Pollstar boxscore figures show. All of the venues have a capacity to seat roughly 10,000 to 20,000 people.
There have been more arena-appropriate crowds in some venues – New York (where the band once had a fun cameo singing background vocals on LCD Soundsystem’s “North American Scum” during that band’s pre-hiatus “farewell” show at Madison Square Garden) and Los Angeles, as well as Toronto. In Vancouver, another more healthy crowd was thanked by lead singer Win Butler for showing up. “We’ve played cities three times as big with half as many people, so this is really a thing of beauty for us,” he told the crowd of 15,000.
In a move which primary sellers always hate to make, tickets for some spots on the tour have been available at discounted prices on Ticketmaster.com, as well as showing up on discount resellers like Groupon.com.
After making the jump from smaller venues to arenas in 2010, it appears the Quebeckers may be in line for a move back down the ladder, at least until they return to the critical acclaim they once held. If nothing else, the tours move to dates outside of the United States (they are currently prepping for a run of dates in Mexico and South America before the end of the year, followed by dates in Europe in early 2018.
“It’s better to start with a small venue and add a show than have a big venue you can’t fill,” said Pascal Courty, a University of Victoria economics professor who has done research on ticket sales. Arcade Fire may be able to make more money playing to a half-empty arena, he said, “but on the other hand, you don’t want to be in the situation they are in.”