At the end of “Saturday Night Live,” host Tina Fey told viewers to stick around, because musical guest Arcade Fire were going to throw a late-night party, and “it’s about to get weird!”
Turns out, she wasn’t kidding. Because what followed was 30 minutes of oddball comedy bits, celebrity cameos, faux film trailers and, oh yeah, a trio of never-before-heard songs taken from Arcade Fire’s upcoming Reflektor album.
Called “Here Comes the Night Time,” the special opened with the band striding off the “SNL” stage, leading a conga line out of the studio and into the streets … of Montreal (this wasn’t entirely live, after all). They then took the party inside the city’s Salsatheque club — where Arcade Fire played earlier this month — and performed “Night” for an audience in vibrant costumes.
There were two other musical numbers, too: “We Exist” and “Normal Person,” the former of which ebbed and flowed on spindly guitars while the latter was a post-punky pounder. Improbably, in between all the music, Arcade Fire also managed to find room for all their famous friends, including Bono and Ben Stiller (who wore the band’s oversized fake heads), Rainn Wilson (who played a gruff roadie) and James Franco (who did his best Keanu Reeves in “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” impression).
Want more? Michael Cera cameoed as a Spanish-speaking, Shakira-loving Salsatheque bartender, Aziz Ansari and Eric Wareheim showed up in a low-budget commercial, and Bill Hader and Zach Galifianakis Skyped in from “outer space.”
It all played out beneath the neon lights of the club itself, and though they were playing on a tiny stage, surrounded by mirrors, Arcade Fire still burned with arena-size power and artful precision. That’s not exactly noteworthy — after all, we know they’re a great band — but after watching their oddball NBC special, we did learn something new about them: They’re really weird. Wonderfully so.