Arcade Fire’s Will Butler Joins Pop-Up Magazine’s Oakland Show

The evolving live magazine teases that the younger Butler brother has a story that involves his musical family and the electric guitar.

From the Fall 2018 issue (Jon Snyder/Courtesy of Pop-Up Magazine)

With the addition of core Arcade Fire member Will Butler, Pop-Up Magazine is taking the live magazine performance to a new level in Oakland next month. 

Butler will be the only musician adding to the show’s roster of never-seen-again stories, investigative reporting, human features, and comedic musings told through animation, photography, and, occasionally, props like glow sticks.  On Feb.1, Oakland’s Paramount Theatre will be home to Pop-Up Magazine’s “winter issue,” one of three shows a year. (Sadly, it has already sold out.)

This season brings together storytellers from KQED’s Sam Harnett, lawyer and writer Josie Duffy Rice, documentary filmmaker Sophia Nahli Allison, and The Weather Underground director Sam Green.

Though producers like Haley Howle try to keep the night’s show a surprise, she teases that Butler will present a story about the electric guitar and his musical family. Contributing producer  Maureen Towey has known Butler since high school and worked as Arcade Fire’s creative director for years before bringing him aboard as a Pop-Up Magazine guest.

“Will is a total renaissance man. Not only is he a rock star, he’s also a scholarly guy,” Howle says. “When he went back to school at Harvard between their last two albums, he started to do more writing and advocacy.”

For Butler, it’s a new endeavor but for Harnett, it’s a mere continuation of communal listening, which he says is rare now. He takes his 90-second radio show, The World According to Sound, on live tours with co-creator Chris Hoff and has the audience sit in the dark and listen to noises from the surround-sound speaker system. Next month, he’ll take the Pop-Up Magazine audience on a sonic trip through the Hagia Sophia filled with sounds not heard for over 500 years.

“I love the simultaneous listening experience of radio, but most people are isolated — most likely commuting in their cars,” Harnett says. “The sound can come to life in a way that couldn’t happen in a written piece, or even on the radio, where it would be experienced individually instead of by a group of people all listening together.”

Pop-Up Magazine, Friday, Feb. 1, 7:30 p.m. sold out; popupmagazine.com

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