Broken Social Scene - live in Toronto (Cover Artwork)

Broken Social Scene

live in Toronto (2006)

live show

Note: This review is of the Saturday, 1/21 show. I was also in attendance for the Friday show, but was very sick and left after five songs.

With a blood/Dayquil level of surely record proportions, I ventured down Queens Quay to the Kool Haus, braved the breezes off of Lake Ontario (with no coat because I didn't want to waste time checking anything), and settled in for nearly two hours of waiting in line. There was nothing particular noteworthy about the wait, just freezing temperatures and inane hipster chatter. About one hour in Feist arrived, which provoked the line into an awed hush. Fifteen minutes later, Kevin Drew also arrived; this time the crowd reacted with cheers and good luck wishes. We were finally let in out of the cold at eight o'clock.

I made my way to the front of the stage and settled in neatly right up front and centre. The stage contained at least eight guitars and two drum kits, among other instruments, and a nice backdrop of Broken Social Scene's self-titled album's cover. We were all glad to be out of the cold, but after a while the crowd grew restless. It was nearly ten o'clock and there was no sign of BSS or even an opening act. Suddenly, to the side of the stage, an image appeared, projected on a screen. It was a hand drawing the number ten on an easel. It decorated the number with stripes and colours and hearts and took about five minutes to finish. It then tore off the page and continued with nine, eight, seven, etc. The excitement was building. When the zero page was torn off, the audience erupted…and then it drew negative one, two, and three. A certain audience member interjected "Fuck you!," which described everyone's feelings pretty accurately. About fifteen minutes later, the band finally took the stage.

There was not going to be an opening act. Kevin Drew, joined by seven other band members, greeted his fans, thanked them for waiting, and promised a good show. He said "Yesterday was the warmup, today's the real thing." Oh, was he right. The band then broke into a song that I had never heard before called "All the Gods." It was a nice up-tempo anthemic rock song with some great rocking out by Andrew Whiteman on guitar and Brendan Canning on bass. Following that, Feist and the horn section took the stage (which now contained fourteen people) and went straight into "7/4 Shoreline," which really got the crowd going. This was follwed by a rendition of "Fire Eye'd Boy" that was faithful to the album version. Next up was an extremely powerful and just plain brilliant performance of "KC Accidental," which was probably my favourite song of the night. A bit later came "Stars and Sons," which is an audience favourite because of the infamous clapping part. To help with the clapping, a group containing Amy Milan (Stars), Jason Collett, and Jason Tait (the Weakerthans), as well as many others, joined the rest on a stage that now contained more than twenty musicians. Later, Sebastian from Death from Above 1979 would also join in on drums, percussion, and vocals as well as producer Dave Newfeld on guitar. The band and guests were really nailing every song and all seemed to be having fun. There was a lot of improvisation and rocking out by everyone. "Almost Crimes" was another highlight of this section of the show; Amy Milan threw her microphone into the crowd so they could sing along at the end, which bled into the fast version of "Major Label Debut," which was amazing.

Somewhere around this point, Kevin Drew took an applause poll to see which show (Friday or Saturday) was better so far. Saturday won easily, to which Kevin remarked "always go to the second Social Scene show, the first one's just a rehearsal." Dave Newfeld also took a moment to give shout-outs to the members of BSS's online forum. Kevin then urged everyone to really dance to their "disco" song "Hotel." This was pulled off so well that I don't think there was a single person in the building not getting their proverbial groove on. "Bandwitch" was amazing with Feist, Julie Penner, and Lisa Lobsinger singing the main rhythm with the rest of the band building the song around them. "Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl" was changed to "Anthems for a Fifteen Year Old Girl" and dedicated to a girl who was killed on the same day that Kevin Drew's grandfather died. Amy Milan did a pretty good job filling in for the absent Emily Haines on vocals, despite a lot of awkward dancing. "Superconnected" was dedicated to "your divorced parents" and started off slow and simple before building into a masterpiece of a crescendo surpassing the already great album version. This was followed by an extra-rocking "Ibi Dreams of Pavement" dedicated to "your best friend."

Before the encore, Kevin Drew took a few moments to drunkenly ramble about many topics, one of which being the (at this time) shortly approaching Canadian election. He was also presented with a doo-rag from an audience member (Amy Milan tied it on him) and a demo CD which he tossed backstage. This was all very entertaining. He was taking audience requests for the encore, but declined to play resounding choices "Pacific Theme" and "Windsurfing Nation" before eventually settling for "Lover's Spit." This was followed by a just okay version of "Cause = Time," aside from Charles Spearin's guitar solo which was excellent, and an unreleased/never-going-to-be-released song entitled "Where's Your Heart." They then played one of my favourites and a song that I was not at all expecting to hear, "I'm Still Your Fag," and finally an extra-long and extra-good performance of "It's All Gonna Break." After nearly three hours on stage, Broken Social Scene took a final bow and exited to overwhelming applause.

You may think that their new album is overproduced, you may even think it's shit, but I dare you to attend a Broken Social Scene show and not have a good time. It would be impossible. Their songs just translate so well to a live environment and the sheer number of people in the band provide the songs with so much power and energy. This was one of the best shows that I've ever seen.

Set list:

  • All the Gods
  • 7/4 (Shoreline)
  • Fire Eye'd Boy
  • KC Accidental
  • Major Label Debut (slow version)
  • Stars and Sons
  • Handjobs for the Holidays
  • Late Night Bedroom Rock for the Missionaries
  • Shampoo Suicide
  • Almost Crimes
  • Major Label Debut (fast)
  • Hotel
  • Bandwitch
  • Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl
  • Superconnected
  • Ibi Dreams of Pavement
  • Backyards
  • Lover's Spit
  • Cause=Time
  • Where's the Heart
  • I'm Still Your Fag
  • It's All Gonna Break