#MakeChangeSeries Continues During Sundance With Arcade Fire’s Win Butler & Régine Chassagne for The KANPE Foundation
Salesforce's Make Change series with FLOOD is celebrating music as a platform for change during the first weekend of Sundance in Park City.
On Day 2 of the Make Change Series, fans of music and charitable causes came out in droves for Arcade Fire, packed inside the intimate Salesforce Music Lodge despite frigid temps and many roads being closed (come on, Park City—why’re you closing roads during Sundance?!)
AF’s songwriting couple Win Butler and Régine Chassagne spoke passionately with host Anne Litt from KCRW about their work on The KANPE Foundation and Régine’s family connections to Haiti. Both read Paul Farmer’s Mountains Beyond Mountains and went on to develop a close working relationship with anthropologist/physician Farmer, a man they admire deeply.
After touring Haiti and seeing first-hand the poverty, need, and spirit there, Régine describes a mini-existential crisis: “I think I sat in my office for the whole summer, just staring at the wall and thinking about it… what can I do? My family is from Haiti,” she said, voice full of her characteristic emotion.
As explained by Régine, KANPE works in vulnerable rural communities with the goal being to assist them in becoming financially autonomous. But “it’s not people from the outside showing up to do work… it’s through local organizations,” she said.
“There’s a lot of bullshit charities in the world,” Win added. “Like, an organization that says, we give cats… cat toys. That’s cool! Cats deserve toys, but… This charity is not bullshit,” he laughed.
Describing their joint visits to Haiti, Butler remembers when they sang The Beatles’ “Let It Be” for a very sick man who’d requested it, and made a small difference in his life—though no amount of difference is too small, Butler believes. “If you go to a village and hear music it’s a sign of life,” he said. “It’s a sign that something is happening besides pure survival. Particularly when there’s no electricity… when the sun goes down, music is pretty fucking awesome.”
In the latter half of the night, long lines formed outside the venue to see Win and Régine perform on the small stage, additionally packed with members of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band including Ben Jaffe, who alternated between double bass and tambourine, and Arcade Fire’s touring percussionist Tiwill Duprate. “We’re here to rob the rich and feed the poor!” Butler announced, before he and Chassagne launched into Arcade Fire hits both old and new. The crowd went especially wild for a few favorites off 2004’s Funeral, shouting the words to “Wake Up” so loudly you could hear it down Main Street, and a cover of John Lennon’s “Mind Games.”
Chassagne and Butler swapped off between piano, drums, and guitar throughout the night, singing their hearts out. Sometimes Chassagne would kick away her piano bench so she could stand and get a better, more forceful jam on the keys—while Butler’s lilting voice guided everyone behind him.
The performance transitioned when Win Butler moved to his DJ set-up in front of the stage, continuing the festivities as his alter-ego DJ Windows 98 while the band provided percussion and horns. Their covers included David Bowie (“Fame”), Blondie (“Rapture”), and a closing serenade to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
At one point, Butler left the stage and returned with a surprise birthday cupcake and candle for Jaffe, who took his time making a wish. Clinch lingered on the sidelines too, snapping more shots of his friends, while colored disco lights swirled and the Park City night warmed up just a little with good music and good vibes.
For more pix behind the scenes by master music photog Danny Clinch, check out the gallery below.