Friday, October 24, 2008

Concert Review: Broken Social Scene - 10.22.08 at State Theatre

Broken Social Scene is the perfect name for this Toronto indie supergroup. Their band behaves more as a collective of individual talents that complement each other well than as a single unit with a single sound. The result is a wide range of musical styles and talents on display. This is great, but they can be hit-or-miss, because some of the talents are just better. But they act democratically nonetheless. 

At this show, there were as many as nine people on the stage playing at once (even their roadie got in on the action). They usually had seven or eight people on stage, with almost all of them switching off instruments. Only guitarist Andrew Whiteman (aka- Apostle of Hustle) and drummer Justin Peroff stayed on their primary instruments for the entire 2 hour and 19 minute set. They also played at least one song written by each of five band members.  

The band's core members, Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning, each came out with solo-ish albums recently. I don't own these records, but from what I heard at the show as well as from a devoted fan, Drew's was good and sounded like a BSS record, and Canning's was not so good. That sounds about right, because my least favorite songs of the show were Canning's, including one horrible attempt at a funk/soul song. I don't know what the actual dynamic between the bandmates is, but Canning seems like the odd one out. He seems like the unhip dad of the group.

Missing were the two main female vocalists of BSS: Feist and Emily Haines (lead singer of Metric). Elizabeth Powell of Land of Talk, the opener (from Montreal, nice sound), filled in ably for the songs that needed a female voice. She stole the stage on two of the highlights of the show:  "7/4 (Shoreline)" and "Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl."

The other highlights were "Fire-Eye'd Boy" and a really interesting experimental piece called "The Happiness Project" where the multi-instrumentalist/brass/woodwind guys wrote a sax part to play over the spoken word of one of their neighbors... You had to be there, I guess. They finished the pre-encore set with "Ibi Dreams Of Pavement (A Better Day)," and they did something that totally made my night. Mid-song, they quieted down the instrumentals to a whisper, and Kevin Drew instructed the audience-members to let out all their negative feelings by shouting as loud as they could for the rest of the song. I shouted so hard, my voice is still not right two days later. And it felt so good. How often do we get to scream at the top of our lungs in a situation where we won't cause panic or annoyance? I was very thankful for that part of the show.

Like their recordings, BSS's show had some hits and some misses. Also like their recordings, though, it gave a feeling of satisfaction at having heard a very good band play some really creative, innovative music. Kudos to them.

1 comment:

Drew said...

Bummer that Haines was not there. She is great on stage - especially w/ Metric. (Found your site via Jen Lemen on Twitter btw).