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March 3, 2008 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Broken Social Scene

With Cassette, San Francisco Bathhouse
Thursday 21st February

Canadian indie collective Broken Social Scene’s show at the San Fran last week was all about the love. Theirs for us, ours for them, mine for them, theirs for our country (and Marilyn Waring in particular), ours for their music, theirs for their music, theirs for our hair. If this sounds cheesy or trite, and I know it does, just ask someone who was there.

Cassette played a fairly underwhelming opening spot, pitching their country-tinged laid-back pop songs to a crowd that seemed not to care all that much, despite the excessive stage banter. Albeit well put together, theirs was a set that mostly went unnoticed. Unfortunate really, considering how enjoyable their recorded material can be.

Kevin, Charlie, Justin and the rest of the guys took the stage to the well-deserved screaming of the crowd, kicking off with a jumpy new instrumental that we’ll likely hear when the new Broken Social Scene LP (this time with Brendan Canning at the helm) drops in late May. It wasn’t till the all-too-familiar messy guitar intro of ‘KC Accidental’, though, that the show took full flight. Tight, loud drums, a four-pronged guitar attack, surging melodies, tasteful beards; everything. Everything good all at once.

For a collective that ranges between only a handful of members on some recordings to well over twenty on others, these guys are ridiculously tight. Every bassline, guitar riff, keyboard warble, everything is precisely timed and well-placed. This couldn’t be more aptly illustrated than in their performance of ‘Stars and Sons’, a dense mass of messy chords and breathy vocals punctuated by a solid bass-driven beat that even the frumpiest of crowd-goers would find themselves stomping about to.

We were treated to a fairly generous set that Drew (ha) widely from their three most recent albums. With their latest LP essentially being a solo work from Kevin Drew with BSS as his backing band, I had some initial concerns that their set would boil down to ‘The Kev Show’, but this wasn’t the case at all. Although Kev-baby did assume most of the vocal duties, the spotlight was spread generously around Canning and Whiteman. The lack of female singers was a wee bit disappointing, as there was no ‘Anthems for a Seventeen-Year- Old Girl’, ‘Almost Crimes’ or ‘Swimmers’. However, their damn lively rendition of ‘7/4 (Shoreline)’ with Chelsea from the Teacups more than made up for it.

Other highlights were the smooth ‘Cause = Time’, the caustic ‘Farewell to the Pressure Kids’, and the Whiteman-led kickback jam of ‘Looks Just Like the Sun’. But the best song of the night undoubtedly goes to an unreleased number called ‘Water and Hell’, described by Drew as “A Clean cover song we wrote.” Full of bright pop tones and jangly rhythms, this was a homage Bob Scott, David Kilgour and brother Hamish would be elated to have paid to them. I hope they heard it.

The band also took the chance to respond to audience requests, though sometimes not too positively. “I don’t wanna play that song anymore,” protested Drew to a persistent request for ‘Lover’s Spit’; “it’s not fuckin’ valentines day.” Others in the crowd were luckier – after about a dozen requests from an enamoured blond guy, Drew agreed to play the epic ‘It’s All Gonna Break’, but only on the condition that he could dedicate it to the requestor’s fro, a sweet transaction by anyone’s standards.

I’m probably not the best person to review this gig; I love this band way, way too much. They are fantastic, and they make me feel fantastic. Everything about them and their music is marvellous. So yeah, I had, you know, an ok time.


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