Already on its second stop in Northern California promoting 2013’s excellent “Reflektor,” Arcade Fire settled into a smooth dance groove that kept the audience in Oakland’s sold-out Oracle Arena dancing and chanting.
The band — featuring 10 people, including two Haitian percussionists and violinist Owen Pallett — started with a stripped-down “My Body Is a Cage,” spotlighting only Win Butler and wife Regine Chassagne. But then it jumped into the single “Reflektor” and never slowed down, its carnival of sounds (ranging from simple guitars to violins and a Haitian beat) keeping the crowd in a frenzy that didn’t stop until the final notes of “Wake Up.”
2013 Coachella headliner Phoenix nicely warmed up the audience for Arcade Fire. The French band captivated with its synth-rock, playing from its 2009 breakthrough “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix” and 2013’s “Bankrupt!”
Singles “Lisztomania” and “1901” shot energy through the crowd after the slow burn of Alt-J, which put a halt to the momentum built by 17-year-old New Zealander Lorde.
Backed by a drummer and synth, Lorde mesmerized with cuts from her debut, “Pure Heroine.” Appearing before the largest crowd of her young career, Lorde was poised despite a microphone malfunction at the beginning of her set, an ovation-earning mix of minimal and dark electronic pop.
In contrast to the electronic sounds on Day 2, loud thrashing guitars dominated Day 1 of Not So Silent Night. Led by Queens of the Stone Age, Arctic Monkeys and Vampire Weekend, it was simply heavy.
The second band onstage, Arctic Monkeys revealed a polished garage-rock sound evident on this year’s “AM.” But QOTSA’s pure slithering garage rock, led by Josh Homme, was the night’s most powerful and attention-grabbing set, with guitar and drums hitting hard and loud.
Vampire Weekend continued its strong year with a crowd-pleasing, eclectic 12-song set featuring its best offerings, including “Unbelievers,” “A-Punk” and “Walcott,” and giving equal time to all three of its recordings.
Kings of Leon, driving its arena-rock sound developed five years ago with “Sex on Fire,” closed the first night with a solid if unspectacular set.