Live Review: Broken Social Scene at Malkin Bowl

It all started with a bus ride.

The reason I’d decided to go and see Broken Social Scene in the first place was because a friend of mine had been a right sweetheart and bought two tickets to see them as a birthday present for his girlfriend this past Saturday at Malkin Bowl. When he told me that he was going and asked if I wanted to join in, I jumped at the chance, as I’d loved Broken Social Scene ever since I first heard Cause = Time.

So, back to the bus. We hopped onto the 8 Fraser, and were greeted with a most pleasant fellow taking up at least 3 seats. He had some wispy facial hair in patches all over his face, was wearing a darling do-rag (in case anyone was wondering how hard he was), and from the looks of it, was delirious from a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and therefore was on all the drugs known to man. After switching sides to follow the woman who had moved to get away from him, he sat looking like he was practicing his impersonation of a Mortal Kombat character while not moving, or possibly as if he was going to thunder chunder at us. Thankfully all was well and we didn’t have to go back home to change.

Next was the 19 from the Main Street skytrain station, which held a few of our fellow concert-goers, all excited for the night to come. Until the bus had to stop its route short and dropped us all off at least a 35 minute walk from Stanley Park. And naturally, we figured that if doors opened at 5:30 and the concert started at 7:00, we may as well just leave at 6:00, because in the 45 minutes it took us to get there, we’d be set for the opening act, Ra-Ra-Riot. So we walkedwalkedwalked, until a cab came by, and we rode in style the rest of the way.

About nine bucks later, we were in the venue, which was the lovely Malkin Bowl. I’d never been there before, but we had a nice open area for getting your moves out, a hill for sittin’, a merch table, and places to get food. It was a beautiful, amazing night for the concert. It was too warm for a jacket, but there was a cool breeze blowing through that kept you from getting too warm. As far as food went, apparently enormous bags of popcorn are popular, who’d guess?

So Ra-Ra-Riot was playing as I entered, and although I’ve never really listened to them before, I was diggin’ the sound. The only song I recognized was ‘Can You Tell’ from The Rhumb Line album, which I quite like. I spotted a cellist and a violinist which made my heart beat, especially since both were appealin’ for the eyes to behold. I rather like the look of the body-less cello (if that’s the right term for it, it had the body outline, so correct me if I’m wrong), though the glitter violin made me give a bit of a whaa-, head tilt. Unfortunately, even though they did a great job, not knowing much about the band and their musical selection, and the fact that I missed probably 15 minutes of their 45 minute (another whaa- head tilt) set, means that I can’t do a very good job of reviewing their brief appearance.

Then came the fun wait for setting up equipment for Broken Social Scene, which had me antsy for action. At around…8:06 (?), the fellas took the stage. Andrew Whiteman, Brendan Canning, Kevin Drew, Sam Goldberg, Charles Spearin, Justin Peroff, and who I believe to be John McEntire, all took the stage. NOT that this is a bad thing, but I have to say, from seeing pictures of Brendan Canning before, it looks like he’s aged about 20 years in about 4 years, and at first I had quite a hard time placing him; he did, however, turn out to be the most energetic up on stage, jumping and swinging his leg high when he deemed necessary.

The first song they moved into from a nice little intro was the above-mentioned Cause = Time. This of course started my night off beautifully, as this was the song I’d first heard by them, so I got to start the night with a little nostalgia. They then brought out Texico Bitches from the new album, which brought on some good “WOO”s from the crowd as Kevin Drew leaned to sides of the crowd with his microphone. 7/4 Shoreline brought out the lovely Lisa Lobsinger, whose sultry voice, melted the hearts of fans through-out the downtown area. I was terrified that they might not play the horn parts near the end of the song, but a stagehand handing Mr. Spearin an oddly shaped trumpet (or so I believe it was), and David French stepping out with his sax allayed my fears and pleased my ears. Moving along quickly now, Stars and Sons turned into All to All, turned into Fire Eye’d Boy, and then Kevin Drew made a wee speech for the crowd. He said that they were going to play a song that’d become rather close and meaningful to the band lately (this is not verbatim, I am not that good at memory), and that we might recognize it. Without telling us what it might be, the band then covered The World at Large by Modest Mouse. I was hoping that Isaac Brock might appear out of nowhere to help out (like he will do on the Oct. 1 show in San Fran), but unfortunately he didn’t.

I want to take a moment now to acknowledge how bittersweet this cover was for the night. I hadn’t known that BSS was going to be going on an indefinite hiatus when I bought the ticket, and when I did find out, I was thankful I didn’t miss my chance to see this incredible group of musicians take the stage. When Kevin Drew had said that this song had taken on a lot of meaning for the band, it was a bit tear-jerking. Listening to the lyrics come out of Kevin Drew’s mouth was like hearing the reason why the band why going on hiatus in the first place. It was sad to hear that the band was feeling like it needed to move on to greener grasses and that, at least some members, just felt that it was time to leave behind the old and move on to something else. It was a somber moment to have, but I quite liked their interpretation of the song, and I liked the idea that we were being let in on how the group may’ve felt without being told directly.

Once that wrapped up, they played something I can’t quite put my finger on, but it contained elements of Late Nineties Bedroom Rock for the Missionaries, as well as Shampoo Suicide. Upon that ending, Kevin Drew said something about weight and not going to the YMCA enough, which led to Brendan Canning busting out some Village People for the crowd. Hilarity ensued. Mr. Canning then informed us that he had poor timing with humour as it was now time for Sweetest Kill; a sweet ditty about divorce. To be honest, I never really gave this song a second thought before, but after hearing it played live, I can’t get it out of my head. It’s just such a smooth, haunting melody, with a beat that’s not too fast and not too slow. Ibi Dreams of Pavement was next up to bat, followed by a version of Major Label Debut with a tempo that fell between the slow album version, and the fast EP version. Kevin Drew then informed us that they would play a song he always really liked (once again, I’m improving his voice), which turned out to be Looks Just Like the Sun, a beautiful number from You Forgot It In People. Anthems of a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl, Meet Me in the Basement (with an extended triple ending), and (naturally) KC Accidental wrapped the night up. Mr. Drew said goodnight, and we all clapped and waited for the encore.

Which I called from the very beginning. There was no way they weren’t going to finish the night off without It’s All Gonna Break. I was waiting for it, and they delivered it with gentleness of an open palm, but the strength of a closed fist. It was an incredible 10ish minutes, and they all looked so happy up there on stage, giving it all a final go. The guitars were being shredded, the horns were making that sweet brassy sound that I needed to balance out the sound of the rest of the band, and Mr. Drew’s voice was positively beautiful when alone, or amongst others. It was a long and incredible ending to what had been an astounding night and career.

As I left the venue, I said goodbye to the trees, the warm night, the cold breeze, and those that I had danced amongst. And I said a goodbye to 10 years of touring, writing, and performing on the part of an amazing collective of musical talent.

Here’s to Broken Social Scene; you made all of our nights, come back anytime.

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