Reviews

Broken Social Scene

Dan Raper

You never know who’ll show up to play a BSS gig. The six-member group who greeted tonight’s crowd was a bit of a surprise. This was, like, "old-school Broken Social Scene," explained Kevin Drew. (And oh, did I mention that Feist made an appearance as well?)

Broken Social Scene

Broken Social Scene

City: Sydney, AUS
Venue: Manning Bar
Date: 2008-02-28

Broken Social Scene brings out an enthusiastic crowd. In the relatively small but packed venue at Sydney University, pre-show excitement quickly turned into surging expectation. "I used to drink with Feist in Calgary," said one bystander, "back in her little punk band days.” "Lisa Lobsinger works with my little sister," said another. And a common refrain was, "Last time Broken Social Scene was here was like, the best show I've ever been to in my life." You never know who’ll show up to play a Broken Social Scene gig. The six-member group (Kevin Drew, Brendan Canning, Andrew Whiteman, Charles Spearin, Justin Peroff, and new member Sam Goldberg) who greeted tonight’s crowd was a bit of a surprise. This was, like, "old-school Broken Social Scene," explained de facto leader Drew when introducing the band. A classic showman, Drew drunkenly railed against local conservative figure Fred Nile and antagonized the audience, the sound guy, and the venue people when they told him time was up. It didn't affect the performance, though. As he said at the end: "I sang my fucking heart out for you, Sydney." The result of this stripped-back lineup was a guitar-heavy show absent the ecstatic brass that pervades much of BSS's more triumphant musical moments. Rumor has it that the real BSS performance went down Sunday evening at the Laneway Festival; in comparison, this show, which albeit definitely had its highlights, was a little staid. These are all relative terms, of course -- you hardly expect any BSS show to be without its rough edges. Messiness has always been part of the group's charm, and is one of the reasons they have such a loyal live following. Sound issues don’t help, though, and the band was annoyed early on for reasons that weren’t completely discernible to the crowd. After four or five songs, Drew abruptly announced they were taking a break while the sound guys fixed the problem, and the group traipsed off stage. The abandonment was so nonchalant, it started to feel as if the band weren’t really into it -- but they returned more quickly than expected, to hurtle straight into "Fire Eye'd Boy" and "7/4 (Shoreline)". Soon, nobody was complaining. The concert showcased not only the full range of BSS's catalogue, but also a few songs off Drew's 2007 solo release Spirit If, which were among the night’s highlights. As well, guitarist Brendan Canning provided a song from his upcoming album, released in the same Broken Social Scene Presents... series. That song, "Water in Hell", was the most straightforward of the set: a pleasant, jangling country-rock number that hinted at Canning's material being, in comparison, a bit neater, lighter, and more conventional. Oh, did I mention that Feist made an appearance as well? Must've been saving the best for last. With Feist on lead vocals (she also did an acoustic version at her solo show the following night), "Fucked Up Kid" blossomed into one of those ecstatic BSS moments: a fragment of melody was coaxed out of the noise and allowed to exist, poignantly, for a second. "Farewell to the Pressure Kids" layered long and fuzzy guitar lines over each other to a glorious, Sonic Youth-style peak. Things ramped up towards the end of the show, which ran significantly past the allotted time, as the songs coalesced and the energy of the whole room lifted. With Feist again on lead vocals, "Almost Crimes" was absolutely thrilling, and right at the end, with stage managers signaling for them to stop, the band closed with "It's All Gonna Break" off their 2005 self-titled album. You know you've been at a good concert when you leave with your ears ringing and that elated, burnt-out feeling in your head and gut. Whenever you go to see Broken Social Scene, in any of the band’s various forms, it's a feeling you’re likely to leave with.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.

Books

Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.

Film

'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.

Music

Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.

Film

Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.

Music

Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.

Music

The Flaming Lips Reimagine Tom Petty's Life in Oklahoma on 'American Head'

The Flaming Lips' American Head is a trip, a journey to the past that one doesn't want to return to but never wants to forget.

Music

Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.

Music

Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.

Music

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" Is an Ode for Unity in Troubling Times (premiere)

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" is a gentle, prayerful tune that depicts the heart of their upcoming album, Crucible.

Music

'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.

Music

Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.

Television

Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.

Film

Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.

Music

The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.