Inside Arcade Fire’s first show since Win Butler, the lead singer, was accused of sexual misconduct.
During their show in Dublin, the Canadian band didn’t talk about the accusations, and many fans made it clear that they still supported Butler.
Rón Maguire was near the front of the line for Arcade Fire’s concert in Dublin on Tuesday night, which was the start of the band’s European tour. He was stuck between agony and ecstasy.
The 20-year-old student, who was wearing a homemade Arcade Fire T-shirt, said, “I’ve been listening to them my whole life.” “But this news, jeez Louise, I’ve been in ribbons. There are many musicians who do bad things, but Win?”
This week, four people said that the singer Win Butler had done something sexually wrong. He has denied the accusations, but some fans with tickets to the first night of their European tour, which was also their first show since the allegations came out on Saturday, had to decide whether or not to go.
Radio stations in the US and Canada have started to stop playing the band’s songs. Fans are being told on social media to skip upcoming concerts in Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and other places. Some Dublin fans said on Twitter that they would not be going.
Many people were surprised that the tour was even happening. When asked for a comment, an Arcade Fire publicist said only that the band would keep going on its tour to promote its new album, We.
Maguire’s solution to the problem was to wait until after the show to find out more about the accusations against Butler. “I’d rather not find out right now. I think I’ll be in the zone once I’m in. When I get home, I’ll read about it. I’ll be upset.”
Maguire’s friend, JD Carey, who is 18 years old, came to show support for her, but she felt sick. “It’s awful for the people who were hurt to see fans still cheering for the band.”
Inside the arena, 19-year-old Shan Conley said the same thing. “If I had known the news before, I wouldn’t have bought the ticket. If he did something like that, I wouldn’t want to help him make money.
Steve Dowling, her 20-year-old friend, had no doubts about going. “It’s just a claim until he’s proven guilty.”
The US music magazine Pitchfork did an investigation and found that four people between the ages of 18 and 23 at the time say Butler did something wrong. The three women and one gender-fluid person say that the singer took advantage of his fame and their fandom by doing things like sending unwanted sexual messages between 2015 and 2020, when Butler was between the ages of 34 and 39.
Butler said that the relationships were mutually agreed upon. He said, “Anyone who says otherwise is deeply revisionist and, well, just wrong.”
Many people were shocked by the controversy because Arcade Fire rose to the top of the indie music world and played at Barack Obama’s inauguration. They did this with catchy songs and a clean, politically progressive image. Butler’s longtime partner Régine Chassagne plays in the band. She defended him to Pitchfork, saying she was “certain” he had never touched a woman without her permission.
Just before the Dublin show, Butler caused a stir when he walked through the arena and surprised and happy fans. One woman, who had just found out about the claims through Twitter a few minutes before, posed for selfies with the Grammy winner while beaming. She said she would read about the claims after the show.
When asked Butler if he was going to talk about the controversy from the stage, he paused, shrugged, offered a handshake, and walked away.
When Butler took the stage, the crowd cheered so loudly that it was hard to hear. He thanked them “from the bottom of my heart” for coming. It was the only time he seemed to hint at the accusations.
He didn’t talk much, but when he did, he went right into the band’s classic hit, “Wake Up.” He and Chassagne and the rest of the band then played a lively set of old hits and new songs.
The band left the stage to a clip of Ben E. King’s song “Stand By Me,” which could also be a reference to what was going on.
The crowd’s enthusiastic response and the lack of obvious heckling showed that at least these fans were still believing.
“He’s a rock star, it’s part of the job, it’s how he lives,” said 60-year-old Dessie Hamill, who had left his home in Northern Ireland that morning to get a spot in front of the stage. “Every day of the week, women are after him. They are one of the most popular groups in the world.”
Others didn’t know about the claims and brushed them off when they were told. One woman in her 30s said, “No offense to men, but a man’s a man.” “I’m only here to listen to the music.”
Others said they felt uneasy, but that they didn’t connect the art to the artist. “I’m not defending anything,” said Silvia D’Angelo, 31, from Italy. “But different artists have done bad things in the past, and you still listen to their music.”
The same thing was said by a 29-year-old female fan. “Michael Jackson is still listened to.” She didn’t give her name because she was afraid of how her younger, more “woke” colleagues would react.
Pat O’Leary, who is 50 years old, said that the claims surprised him. “There would be something cool about Arcade Fire trying to do the right thing.” He bought a T-shirt that helped raise money for Haiti. O’Leary said that sexual misconduct claims had ruined the reputations of other artists like Woody Allen and Roman Polanski. “Would it make me not want to watch Chinatown? No.”