I once pointed Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew toward a local pot dealer. It was right after David Newfeld got caught by the fuzz in Washington Square Park last summer, subsequently missing the band’s performance and getting the snot beat out of him. I figured next time they made it into town, they’d be free from the hands of the over-exuberant NYPD and would be able to once again crowd onto a stage as a full unit. Newfeld was there this time, and he didn’t look too baked. And neither did the rest of the band members as they plowed through an ideal set at New York City’s latest over-priced indie den, Webster Hall.
To scale, Webster Hall is a good fit for Broken Social Scene, with its array of brass musicians shuffling into and out of the milieu like theater backdrops and its revolving cast of lovely female vocalists, dual drums, dual guitars, dual just-about-everything. It’s a better fit than most New York City venues, anyway. Except, of course, for the muted sound, $7 Buds and $25 cost of tickets. But who can put a price on this love-in? Every member of the band even happened to squeak onto the stage at the same time – just once, I think, during the triumphant closer, “It’s All Gonna Break.”
The band’s live show has always been as sprawling as its roster. It’s often constrained by festival environments or an opening slot, as was Broken Social Scene’s too brief appearance with mega influence Dinosaur Jr. at last year’s Summerstage. But when they want to, and when they can, the members will play forever. Hence, the lack of opener this time (not that there aren’t about a dozen Broken Social Scene off-shoots to cherry pick for the slot).
But this is a proper Broken Social Scene tour, and this was a proper Broken Social Scene show. Drew took front and center and led his collective through its first movement, bringing particular volume to newer, more “difficult” material before introducing his newest chanteuse, Lisa Lobsinger (Broken Social Scene member: ’05-?). Lobsinger gave Emily Haines (Metric/Broken Social Scene) a run for her money, slinking onto the stage with playfully overblown hair and a sly wink and smirk. It always feels like a hippie gathering when these ladies enter stage right and creep around the shaggy-haired buddies (boyfriends?) leaning on their shoulders to belt their hearts out. For a second there, as I looked through the weed haze, I felt like I was ankle deep in hipster drool – but that might just have been a contact high.
Their strong smiles and can-do attitude made up for long-winded solos and propensity toward jamming. And eighteen songs into the twenty-elongated-song set, out of beer money, I started to realize that this is the last band I wanted to watch the lead singer introducing each of his bandmates. But the members of Broken Social Scene, crowded on stage at the set’s end, cut it off before it all broke (as in, just before the venue, which turns into a bridge and tunnel wasteland dance club after ten, started thumpin’). As he departed the stage, wasted, exhausted and elated, this time I bummed Mr. Drew a Camel Light.
Don’t quote me, but here’s my best estimation of the set list:
Stars and Sons
Major Label Debut
Handjobs for the Holidays
Cause = Time
Ibi Dreams of Pavement (A Better Day)
Major Label Debut (Fast)
Anthem for a 17-Year-Old Girl
All My Friends
It’s All Gonna Break
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