Cage Match: Arcade Fire vs. Sufjan Stevens

Rs_lSo I’ve been thinking more about that Arcade Fire show I went to see last week, and I can’t free myself from this idea that, in the universe of indie bands, there are some that are trying to share the same patch of musical real estate… although there may be room for only one group on that patch.

Case in point: The Arcade Fire and Sufjan Stevens’ Illinoisemakers.

Think about it. Both groups sing artsy, sensitive songs using a variety of adorably retro instruments. Both have at least 10 members on stage at any time. Both suffer from an overabundance of sincerity.

But in a cage match, who would win? Let’s evaluate.

Fighting Power
Arcade Fire: Rage; existential pain
Sufjan: Jesus
Advantage: Sufjan

Themes
Arcade Fire: Rage; existential pain
Sufjan: Jesus; the 50 states
Advantage: Arcade Fire

Instrumentation
Arcade Fire: Pipe organ; giant silver stand-up bass; accordian; angry Butler brother
Sufjan: Xylophone; very pretty women with shiny hair
Advantage: Arcade Fire

Costumes
Arcade Fire: None
Sufjan: Cheerleading sweaters; pom-poms
Advantage: Sufjan

addCredit(“Chassagne: Kelly A. Swift/Retna; Stevens: Rahav Segev/NY Times/Retna“)

Lead Singer Charisma
Arcade Fire: Win Butler’s rictus mask; RĂ©gine Chassagne’s (pictured, left) evil fairy thing
Sufjan: Sufjan’s (pictured, right) acne-free choir-boy complexion
Advantage: Arcade Fire, unless we are shooting a Noxzema commercial

Choreography
Arcade Fire: head thrashing; megaphone shouting; singalongs in middle of crowd
Sufjan: Jesus says no dancing
Advantage: Arcade Fire

WINNER
Clearly, the Arcade Fire could kick Sufjan’s ass.

And there you have it! The first-ever PopWatch Battle of the IndieBands for the Same Patch of Galactic Hipster Real Estate. Note the wayI have not pointed out the way Broken Social Scene’s Leslie Feist andEmily Haines could blow every person in both of these bands away withone cock of a sassy hip, thus making all the rest of the categoriesmoot.

Did I call this one right, PopWatchers? Choose sides! And who else could use a cage match to determine indie supremacy?


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Comments (43 total) Add your comment
Page: 1 2 3
  • Robert

    All I’ll say is that Dan Bejar, Neko Case and AC Newman and the rest of the New Pornographers would be champions of any indie-rock fight.

  • Liza

    Sufjan who????????

  • Scott P

    I think you were wrong, you have to factor in the new butterfly costumes Sufjan’s band used on the last tour, and add the fact that while the battle was going on, Sufjan could write an entire album on the battle, while we’ll be lucky get another Arcade Fire cd in three years after the next one. Winner: Sufjan.

  • nathan

    What I’d really like to see is everyone teaming up on Panic at the Disco, knock ‘em around a little bit, take away their record deal, stuff like that.

  • Soda

    Good call, Robert. But could the New Pornographers withstand Stephin Merritt’s subsonic basso profondo voice of death?

  • Sean

    Sufjan Stevens is more amazing then any musical artist in the world. How come you didn’t mention that the music Sufjan Stevens writes is far more beautiful and complex then anything by Arcade Fire. Granted, Aracade Fire is better then most of the music around today, but I definitly feel that Sufjan is the best of all music artists today.

  • brendan

    please do more of this. this was amazing.

  • Jason

    Not to mention Sufjan’s rocking a Grizzly Adams beard these days, which musses up that choirboy complexion.
    And you gave Sufjan’s instrumentation short shrift – the boy can play pretty much any instrument you can think of.
    I think it’s obvious whose team I’m on, though….

  • kde

    yeah, “indie rock.”
    Man Man knows no limit to instrumentation.

  • kde

    Man Man bests all. period.

  • Matt

    your forgot HOTNESS, which Sufjan clearly wins. :)

  • Jason2

    Quote from Chicago’s Pitfork Festival last summer: “Dude, Man Man is Bad Bad.”

  • Ep Sato

    Brian Jonestown Massacre should be declared the rulers of indy rock. At least Anton Newcombe would probably want it that way…

  • tay

    you forgot nationality.
    canadians dont fight.
    we just win.
    ha.

  • Yasuri Yamileth

    Who cares?

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