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Friday, November 11, 2005

Broken Social Scene

I was fortunate to catch Broken Social Scene and Feist at the Boulder Theater last week. Two years ago I was blown away after getting my hands on this wild group of Canadians' You Forgot it in People. I had yet to tire of the disc when their latest album was released last month (Broken Social Scene). While it has yet to hit me like the first one, it is a solid follow-up that's true to form.

The show took place the same day I arrived to the Rocky Mountain State, so I was a bit disoriented. The friend I was visiting hadn't heard of them, but was a trooper and decided to join me (His roommate was also going to come with his cousin Matt Nader and his band, Aqueduct, but I guess they got caught up in Salt Lake City where they had a show the following day. It would have been wild to hang out with them for an evening, especially since I've become a fan of their debut, I Saw Gold. But I'm glad my sleeping arrangements didn't include sharing the few basement couches with 5 other dudes.)

The Boulder Theater is a pretty amazing example of art deco at its finest. In addition to its adornment, most sightlines are pretty excellent and the sound was crisp and full. We got inside in time to hear Feist complete her last few tracks. The best description is this one by Pitchforkmedia from their review of her 2004 album, Let It Die: "Anyone who has ever seen Broken Social Scene perform in their A1 configuration knows that Leslie Feist (singer of You Forgot It in People's "Almost Crimes") has roughly six backrooms worth of charisma stockpiled in her lighter pocket alone." That was true of both her solo performance and for the 6 or so songs that she played with the band. Her solo jazzy sound wasn't exactly my style, but she was a fascinating performer.

I've always known that Broken Social Scene had a lot of members, but I really had no idea. When the group came on stage the total head count was 12! 12! That's P-Funk numbers. That's about the number of rappers that were on stage when I was at Outkast's cd release party for Stankonia at the Tabernacle in ATL. That is rarely a number for an indie outfit. It's expected that an album is played with many members, but 12 touring?

At times there were two drummers, other times 5 guitarists, usually 3 on horns, the occasional violinist and the expected keyboards and singer. Despite the dozen players, they were switching positions all the time. Guitar to drums, drums to keys, keys to bass, bass to horns, etc, etc. It was hard to keep track.

No matter how they did it, they did it. It was a really powerful and fun show. They covered nearly every song off of You Forgot it in People and their latest disc. They were as creative and kinetic as their discs suggest, with powerful guitars and crazy beats. The singers (4 different leads) were spot on; exceeding my expectations. This Toronto based supergroup made it work. They are a perfect example of 12 heads working together as a unit, switching from tunes that remind me of the best work of New Order (Fire Eye'd Boy) and at other times early Flaming Lips (Ibi Dreams of Pavement). I can't imagine that something of this sort can sustain, accessible and forward thinking music ala Sgt Pepper's and Neon Golden, but for now it is most definitely clicking.

More photos can be found at my Flickr account.

Studio perfomance from KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic:

Broken Social Scene on KCRW - 11/8/05.ra

UPDATE: I guess I should of expected it, but Pitchfork's interview with the band is crazy long, but very informative and well done. It was conducted by Editor-in-Chief Ryan Schreiber and includes plenty of recording tidbits (most interviews focus so heavily on the personal stuff, which is well represented here, but it's nice to see questions being answered about the music).
BSS Pitchfork Interview 11/21/05


  • At 9:55 PM, Blogger Flatlander said…

    Sounds like an amazing show. Those photos came out great. Did you take those with your camera phone or did you have a different camera at the show. It also seems like you had some sweet seats for the show too.

  • At 1:47 PM, Blogger devin said…

    thanks for a great review & pics. links were terrific too.

  • At 8:15 PM, Blogger jds said…

    Yeah I did take those with my trusty Canon Powershot A75. I took approximately 50 pictures that evening. If the people around me were pissed they didn't say a thing. I spent a long time between sets playing around with the settings until they came out. There's a reason there isn't a picture from Feist's solo performance.
    We did have a pretty amazing spot for the show. We just hung around before BSS came on talking and then realized that there was only one line of folks between us and the stage. The sound would of been better further back, but then I wouldn't of had as much to share.


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