The Arcade Fire can now add the 2011 Polaris Music Prize to their lengthy list of accolades. Following various other wins this past year for their 2010 record The Suburbs, including a BRIT Award, a Juno award and a surprise win at the Grammys, the Montreal band took home the $30,000 prize last night in Toronto.
Although the band chose to not perform at the gala – which featured sets from six of the ten shortlist nominees (absent were Colin Stetson, Destroyer and The Weeknd), the members present took in each performance and expressed their gratitude towards the prize and win.
Expressing their respect for the other bands nominated, upon receiving their big novelty cheque, Win Butler, Richard Reed Parry and Jeremy Gara invited bands to record at their studio in Montreal, something they said they are considering putting their winnings towards.
“We started a studio outside of Montreal after our first record and whenever we don’t use it we let other bands go in and record,” explains Butler, at a post-show conference. “It’s just important to have a space in the music scene to record; if you never document it, no one will hear it.”
Two fellow nominees, Timber Timbre and Colin Stetson (who contributed to The Suburbs), have recorded at said studio, and Butler hopes to have more bands come through in the future. “It’s expensive to make a record.” In the band’s acceptance speech, they also encouraged young musicians to make music, telling them that he wants to return to the Polaris gala in the future to see a band record a better record than The Suburbs.
As for the rest of the gala, performers dazzled, showing the vast array of genres covered on the shortlist – from the pulsating dance beats of Austra (arguably the best performance of the night) to the straight-up rock ‘n’ roll act of Francophone band Galaxie, every nominee who took the stage tonight proved why they deserved a spot on the coveted list.
Highlights included the aforementioned Austra, who brought the swelling intensity of ‘Beat and the Pulse’ to life, and Braids, whose understated maturity blew everyone away. Lead singer Raphaelle Standell-Preston’s voice was in such tip-top shape that Parry himself was spotted giving his praises to the band between performances.
Moments like those really did remind us that even though the room was packed with members of the country’s music elite that this was still a fairly intimate affair between respected writers and musicians alike. “It’s a different feeling,” Butler explained, when asked about the difference between winning the Polaris Prize and, say, a Juno or Grammy. “In that sense, it feels less like we’re in a foreign world.”
When the night drew to an end and Butler and company posed with their cheque at the press conference, they added, “People were cut-throat when it came to taking these photos at the Grammys!”