Live - Broken Social Scene @ Stubb's BBQ | AUSTIN

If there's one thing that can be said about Canada's Broken Social Scene, it's that they have a tendency to drift towards the dramatic. With up to 16 members, no fewer than 5 though, their stage presence is as expansive as their instrumentation, and after touring on one of the most popular albums of last year over three continents, their sound has only expanded. Last week I had the pleasure of seeing this collective live, where they had no problem translating to the stage.

As I made my way into the pit of Stubb's outdoor stage I immediately cursed myself for wearing long sleeves as we (Austin) were on the verge of our next big cold front. I don't know how the weather works in the rest of the States, but in Austin, before the storm hits, the humidity is enough to choke on. So there I was, ringing the sweat from my shirt, walking through the air, praying for the rain to get it over with.

After nestling a spot in between a young, red-bearded hipster and an over the hill Dad with his daughter, the DJ effortlessly segued from cannabis-soaked reggae into the infectious sound of Daft Punk's, "One More Time," and BSS's Kevin Drew took the stage. Clearly wearing his thoughts on he sleeve (or in this case, his chest), Drew's "Bollocks to Poverty" shirt informed us all that he wasn't against the homeless in particular, just their financial state. Already getting a kick out of that, I could only continue to smile as he went into an All-Star style introduction of the band.

Absent a few members that are currently on tour with their other acts, Drew brought out the core of BSS, Andrew Whiteman, Brendan Canning, and Justin Peroff, Charles Spearin, Ohad Benchetrit, Julie Penner, and a couple others (sorry others). As the crowd's swell grew, Drew made a pact with us all, that they would "play this show like it was their last time here," which sat a little strange knowing that nearly everyone in the band has their own project to work on outside of BSS. Could it be the last show in Austin for these guys? As sure as they'd play it that way, I'd enjoy it, and with that they all sat behind their respective instruments and prepped to break in to simultaneous rock.

The only problem was, Daft Punk wouldn't shut up, and after an uncomfortable extra minute of "One More Time"-ing it, the screech of electric fuzz finally broke us all into "KC Accidental," and the show was off and running. Right off I was blown away by the translation of the studio sound into the live atmosphere. The sound is much rougher, fuller, bigger. It almost reminded me of Sigur Ros, only I could understand what they were saying, and I didn't want to jump off of a cliff.

Next, it was the opening chords to "7/4 (Shoreline)" that sent chills up my spine with expectation. Hoping and praying that my future wife Feist would pop out and grace us all with her voice, I raised up on my toes, searching the stage. I was let down however when she didn't show, but was quickly lifted when I heard Lisa Lobsinger begin to sing. She is an amazing talent on her own, and being the first time to get a listen, I was impressed enough to not care about Feist's absence.

A few more vast songs into it, and after bassist Canning was treated to a few tokes from a fan's joint onstage, the crowd was still going crazy. Despite the condensation now falling from the awning over the stage, people could not resist creating more heat through dancing. Amy Millan popped onstage to our collective delight, treating us to the gloriously detuned dance groove, "Hotel." The crowd counted the group in on the heavy "Ibi Dreams Of Pavement (A Better Day)," which, in the end, always manages to remind me of Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start The Fire." I know, I know. How hard rock is that?

Half the group left the stage so that Whiteman could take a turn singing "Looks Just Like The Sun," and then when they all came back on there were two new members, Munaf Rayani and Chris Hrasky from Explosions In The Sky who joined on guitar and percussion, respectfully. During "Lover's Spit" I was ready for Rayani to tear open the sky, but it never happened.

Afterwards everyone hopped off-stage with the exception of Drew, who stayed on to explain to the crowd that he loved our town, and that he's sad that this might be the last time they ever played here. This only drove the audience to more screaming and Drew took full advantage of the rabid fans. Goading them into call and response mode, he stood over the crowd in complete control, the glee filling his eyes.

"Repeat after me. Fuck this!"
"Fuck this!"
"Vince McMahon is the Devil!"
"Vince McMahon is the Devil!"

"The Pope looks like a weird Alien!"
"The Pope looks like a weird Alien!"

Confused, I think I was the only one not chanting, and as the band came back on, we were treated to a long jam that led into "It's All Gonna Break," which went on for what felt like 20 minutes and included a crowd surfing Amy Millan.

As the band slowly left the stage, Drew and Co. continued to reiterate the notion that this could have been the last time they ever played Austin, lending to the idea that maybe BSS could be taking to the Seinfeld approach. You know, ending it at the top of their game, quitting while they're ahead, etc. etc. With the success they've had on the whole over the past year, and the overall satisfaction of the crowd that night, this tour would be a good swan song. It just seemed a little hard for me to swallow afterwards, but maybe that's because I was still picturing Benedict XVI beaming up.

Set List

-"KC Accidental"
-"7/4 (Shoreline)"
-"Fire Eye'd Boy"
-"Cause = Time"
-"Stars and Sons"
-"Anthems For A 17 Year Old Girl"
-"Handjobs For The Holidays"
-"Ibi Dreams of Pavement (A Better Day)"
-"Major Label Debut"

-"Almost Crimes"
-"Looks Just Like The Sun"
-"Lover's Spit"
-"It's All Gonna Break"

Broken Social Scene

By: Kyle Rother

Live - Broken Social Scene @ Stubb's BBQ | AUSTIN