Broken Social Scene, Henry Fonda Theater, 11/07/05
Much has been written about how much has been written about how much has been written about the whole Canadian band collective phenomenon (great cover feature in Under the Radar this month), multiple groups based between Toronto and Montreal with overlapping members, mainly centering around the Arts & Crafts and Constellation labels. That one guy who plays bass in this band plays horn in this band, this girl sings and has her own band, and so on. If you might imagine these reconfigurable groups as an indie rock Voltron, Broken Social Scene would be the black lion–the head and torso, the most substantial component of the lot. And how was it that when the lions were separate, they all appeared to be the same size, but when they formed the Voltron, the black lion torso was like 3 times bigger than the others? Never could figure that shit out.
On Monday night, the Fonda curtain came up on BSS to six brass players vamping a one chord drone, an early display of the wo/man power they brought with them. Band members multiply on stage, massing up to 11 just for starters. A mellow ambient tune took shape before guitar necks are hoisted as ’KC Accidental’ kicks things off proper. Fan fists are punching the air to that unstoppable riff and beat. From there, one rock song after another has this feeling of constant anthemic crescendo, but the energy in the room stays high. The new LP cuts were rendered down from their ornate album productions. ’Superconnected’ and ’Ibi Dreams of Pavement’ stood out as live keepers.
They kept reconfiguring personnel as the songs dictate, stripping down to a lean, mean 7 piece with 3 guitars and 2 drummers, and brought out some additional ladies on violin and backing vocals now and then. But there’s little of that annoying lag time and idle chit-chat that some of these expanded bands require between songs. Their sound guy does an admirable job at trying to separate out the players in the mix.
As expected, the high points were when Feist took the lead mic. Leslie Feist is to BSS as the blazing sword is to Voltron, which is formed when he (or she?–that face is kind of effeminite) joins and pulls apart the lion head fists. That’s when you knew it was over for the robeast. Why Big V doesn’t just whip out the sword from the get-go and end shit fast, I never could understand. So when they rock ’Shoreline’ right into ’Almost Crimes’ with Feist at the front, they peak. During the encore break some constituents of the Do Make Say Think confederation are allowed to postrock improv for us. Then everyone comes back on stage for an “indie rock dance party” (their words; they didn’t quite pull it off) and they send us home with funky ’Hotel’ and ’All Gonna Break’ with some audience participation. We hate to keep proving Lenny Kravitz wrong time and time again, but Rock N’ Roll is in fact not dead. It is alive and well, my half-Jewish brother.
We would have had some blurry pics for you but the Fonda has instituted a no camera/pat-down frisking policy to go with their new drink prices ($9 Jack & Cokes!). Great P.R. moves all around, Fonda Mgmt. Some great live pics are out there on the web though. Here and here and here for starters.
UPDATE:Great line from a review of the same show, found in the UC Santa Barbara student paper of all places: “Who would have supposed that so many white dudes with receding hairlines could jam with such audacity?”