It was January 1998. Too cold to be comfortable, too hot not to sweat in your winter jacket, slippery as fuck outside.
At first, the ground was covered in snow in time for Christmas, but when New Year's came along, it started raining. The ground became a cold, muddy gray, slushy and wet enough to go through your winter boots and drench them, yet too cold to wear rubber boots. Then it got colder and colder, so all streets and sidewalks turned into uneven ice patches almost fit to skate on.
A lot worse than the first picture below may lead you to believe:
A lot less romantic than the picture right below:
More along the lines of this one here:
To move anywhere, even in the City, you had to figure things would take at least three times longer than usual. On ground level, things were surely not looking up.
The thing is, neither were things up above: the weight of the ice was straggling trees, who aren't used to carrying such a burden in winter.
Many branches snapped; you can imagine that the bigger trees wrecked cars, but they also killed unlucky pedestrians who were just trying to find their way.
Many cars were... unavailable, to say the least...
The power pylons and lines also fell victim to that, thus cutting the power to roughly 90% of the population at once.
It fucked those of us who'd been here our whole lives, but you can imagine that for those who'd just moved here, it was a bit of a culture shock. Especially those who came from the USA, like Win Butler.
And thus, you have the basis to start writing a song; it's just weird that Power Out would be so anthemic, so positive, rather than depressing, like that winter was. Although, in retrospect, even I can find things to reminisce about from those days: families sticking together, friends helping each other out, sharing human warmth - and going back to our roots, as humans, as the human animal, devoid of the electricity we had grown too accustomed to.
The car's locked in ice? Who cares - we have legs. The freezer doesn't work? But... it's minus-20 out there. It's cold... nothing fire, a blanket, hot cocoa and a bit of the human touch won't fix.
This is by no means Arcade Fire's brightest moment, but it's one of many really good songs off their first international record, Funeral (after the locally-produced EP Arcade Fire).