Broken Social Scene

An Eulogy: Broken Social Scene (1999-2011, Coachella 2013-?)

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Toronto – In an interview published earlier today by esteemed online music journal Pitchfork Media, Kevin Drew of the popular Canadian rock band Broken Social Scene declared that the band was going on hiatus indefinitely after concluding their current tour for their most current LP Forgiveness Rock Record. Arguably one of the most significant bands to emerge in Canada in the past fifteen years, the 67 members of Broken Social Scene have done their part in shaping the landscape in Canadian music for years to come. Alumnus of the band have gone on to great success, especially bands such as Stars, Metric and of course, Feist. The abrupt news of their impending hiatus is sure to bring tears of sadness to many music fans all around.

My own experience with this Toronto band has surprisingly been quite minimal. I only saw Broken Social Scene once. It was 2009, during SXSW of all places. I was walking back to my hotel (the Sheraton..yeah THAT one) and it was about 1:15. As I was approaching Stubbs, I quickly remembered that BSS was playing there. Having never seen the band before, I decided to break my SXSW rule (never see a Canadian/Toronto band in Austin) and check out this act. Forgiveness Rock Record was about to be released later on in the summer and I was lucky enough to hear the track The Sweetest Kill performed then. It was a track I enjoyed. Kevin Drew then introduced some very special guests – Emily Haines and James Shaw to perform Anthem for/of/? a Seventeen Year Old Girl. The crowd went kinda nuts, and I was like “really? is this surprising? Metric is also playing at SXSW, what was the odds of this happening? 1 to 1?” Anyways, the two came out and then performed a beautiful rendition of the track. I then got hungry and went and got a panini, thus ending my first BSS experience.

My second/third BSS experience happened last year during the NXNE charity soccer game, Brendan Canning was on one team and I was on another and I ran into him almost full speed during the game. I kind of expected his seemingly frail body to collapse in a red hairy heap, but it turns out Brendan Canning is a beast on the soccer field so instead, he took the ball away and ran with it. He would later score a goal or two. This year I was in the same soccer game and at the barbecue afterwards, he made me a cheeseburger and I was rather happy about that, even though they used processed cheese instead of the real thing.

There you go, not only were Broken Social Scene important musicians to the industry, they are also people. People with real lives who have to move on, just like you or me. I never saw BSS here because I figured they would always play Toronto, and they would always bring random people on stage to sing songs, and I would always be able to roll my eyes and say ‘that’s so obvious’. Only now, it’s over and I lost my chance. That’s life I guess. The only blessing is that we won’t get to see any more crappy concert films disguised as some weird drama films like the one released last year. For that, I am thankful.

Best of luck to the band in the future, we’ll see you at your eventual reunion.

Broken Social Scene – 7/4 (Shoreline) by artsandcraftsmx

Coachella Day 2: This is what you are going to do (schedule)

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Toronto – Technically we aren’t at Coachella, but that doesn’t mean we don’t like telling people what to do. This will be your second day at Coachella.

11:00 AM Wake Up, Laze About and Brunch

Despite your collective best efforts, you and your friends don’t get up early as originally proposed. Instead, you all take your time waking up, getting ready, checking your twitter feeds and posting instagr.am photos to Facebook to make your friends at home envious. You and your friends decide that brunch will be your one good meal that day and go to some random chain restaurant, maybe IHOP for a carb feast. At some point, you wonder about how good the Joy Formidable and Cults shows would have been. They were probably good.

4:00 PM The Radio Dept/Two Door Cinema Club

Your inability to arrive to the festival early has once again cost you long wait times to get in. Now you have to wait in line with smelly campers who have not showered since Thursday. When you finally get in, you go and check out legendary Swedish band The Radio Dept, who while completely awesome, doesn’t have the music to hold your interest at 4:00 PM in 35-40 degree weather. You make a hasty retreat for something lighter and more energetic, and stumble upon Irish indie pop band Two Door Cinema Club, as you walk into Mojave tent, you wonder whether you have instead accidentally stumbled into an Urban Outfitter store.

6:00 PM Broken Social Scene

As the sky darkens and the grounds begin to cool, you make your way to the main stage to witness a set by Canada/Toronto’s Broken Social Scene. Just to be social, you ask the people around you where they are all from, to which they respond “Toronto”. You wonder why they are checking out a band they have probably seen a dozen times instead of superstar french pop act Yelle. This Broken Social Scene band keeps on introducing some random people to the stage, and you shrug your shoulders.

7:20 PM Bright Eyes

A quick and regretful shwarma waits for you after the Broken Social Scene show, and you have to decide on two rather melancholy acts as the sun goes down. You pick Bright Eyes because you remember Winona Ryder once dated Conor Oberst and you kinda liked that Monster of Folk band. Then you remember that Winona Ryder probably dated every band who is playing from this point forth.

8:30 PM Mumford & Sons

As a massive crowd descends upon the main stage for English folk rock sensations Mumford & Sons, you marvel at a band’s popularity to gain so many bands based on that Little Lion Man song. You are even more surprise when the band takes the stage and plays a 45 minute version of that song. Only afterwards, on the plane, does your friend tell you it wasn’t a 45 minute version of the song, rather thats just how every song off Sigh No More sounds.

9:30 Animal Collective

As you wait anxiously for popular experimental rock act Animal Collective. You’ve heard a lot of things about this band, about how they are really original and how the blogs have really taken to them. You sometimes wonder why this sound check is taking so long and why is it so loud. Then you realize it’s actually Animal Collective. They are ……good, you think.

10:30 Suede

As tempting as it is to watch the acid trip that is known as Empire of the Sun, you make your way to the Mojave stage for Suede. The Panic Manual’s favorite band. They rock your world. You mark this day down as the day your life changed and you cry tears of joy that quickly evaporate into the desert air. “This is Coachella!” you think.

11:30 Arcade Fire

Despite what most of America thinks, everyone here knows who the Arcade Fire is and you quickly make your way to the main stage where you once again marvel at how great a band this band from Montreal is. An amazing and emotional show ends with the track Wake Up. You leave arm in arm with your friends and everyone on the fields are suddenly friends and singing Arcade Fire. This sudden friendship ends as you reach the parking lot and everyone becomes asshole drivers as they make a beeline to the exit.

There you go, your guide/probable path for day two at Coachella.

Shows This Week – December 7 to December 13

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Toronto – Writing about shows happening this week from London seems weird.

Badly Drawn Boy

December 8, Great Hall

Damien Gough’s shows are supposed to be a mixed bag, but what is not a mixed bag is Badly Drawn Boy’s ability to pen well crafted and memorable tunes. The man will be in the Great Hall to promote his new album It’s What I’m Thinking Pt.1 – Photographing Snowflakes. Fans of his will hope he plays some of his older classic tunes such as Silent Sigh, The Rat and Pissing in the Wind. Remember that movie, About A Boy? What a great movie.

Badly Drawn Boy – Silent sigh by gomesbernardi

Tennis

December 8, Drake Hotel

Much like the band Fun, who played Mod Club last week, I don’t know who they are, but they are highly hyped. Does this make me old? Yes.

Tennis – Marathon by Aesthetes Anonymous

Broken Social Scene/Superchunk

December 9, Sound Academy

The Toronto band teams up with indie legends Superchunk to play a super show at the dreaded Sound Academy. It’s Christmas season, so expect BSS to pull in the full lineup since most of them will be home for Christmas anyway.

SUPERCHUNK – Digging For Something by One Four Seven Records

Other shows this week:

Sunparlour Players, December 9, Music Gallery
Hooded Fang, December 9, Drake
Tricky, Dec 12, Mod Club

Things At Concerts That Never Get Old

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Best Coast, NXNE, June 17, 2010, The Great Hall

Toronto – I would like to say that I have been to a lot of shows in my life. Ranging from small acoustic performances at someone’s house to massive corporate festivals like Coachella, I would like to say that I’ve been to many different types of shows as well. With this vast experience, here are some things at concerts that never get old.

Lasers

Simian Mobile Disco, Mod Club, Toronto, 2009

Lasers and light shows never, ever get old. Even if the visual effects are spewing out political bullshit like at a Massive Attack concert, it can still be visually arresting. If the lights are syncing with the music, this can take things to another level. Case in point: I thought The Presets show as only okay until their massive wall of light hit me right square in the face, and then the shit hit the fan. Electro music + light show = epic.

Covers

As much as we love the bands’ original material, everybody loves a good cover. Nevermind the fact that the band probably plays it every night, it still feels special. My favourite cover moment was during a Divine Comedy show, when Neil Hannon started taking requests. He launched into The Smiths There’s a Light That Never Goes Out, and then stopped halfway through to confess that he didn’t know the lyrics; despite releasing the song as a b-side.

Crowd Invasions

DSC_7915

It seems like it’s happening more and more, but there’s certainly an element of electricity in the air when a singer takes matters in his own hand and enters the crowd. There’s always a moment of panic when you realize that the singer is heading right for you. What do you do? I am still slightly embarrassed from SXSW when during the Everybody was in the French Resistance …Now! show, Eddie Argos invaded the crowd and then sang right in my face. This would have been great, except for the fact that I was checking my iPhone, and was completely unaware of the fact. So kids, when you are in an area where there’s a potential for crowd invasions, don’t check your iPhone. Also memorable was the Yacht crowd invasion leading to prayer circle that happened at the Wrongbar in March.

Extended Intros

As a concert going fan, we like it when a band doesn’t play their song note for note. I always like those extended intros that have me guessing: “wait.. Is this song x?”, and then after a minute or two of semi recognizable sounds, launches into the song. In recent memories, the Antlers have done good job of this, despite only playing 8 song sets.

Acoustic Versions

The is many bands’ “go to” move to gain intimacy, the acoustic version of any popular song is an instant crowd pleaser and also guarantees silence and the minimization of concert douchebaggery. Let’s face it, we all like to brag and say “oh man you should have heard the acoustic version of ______”. It is cultural capitalism at its best. In recent memory, acoustic versions of The Everlasting (by the Manic Street Preachers) and Yoshimi (by Flaming Lips) come to mind. I am also expecting Suede to do an acoustic version of the song Still Life in December, unless they bring an orchestra, which would be cool as well.

Surprise Guest Appearances

No, I don’t mean Broken Social Scene bringing out Emily Haines for Anthems for a 17 year old. That is not a surprise at all. However, there are always instances of surprise appearances that will blow your mind. It adds an element of surprise and electricity. It’s also very twitterable. I can’t remember any recent instances of this happening at a show I was at, but the Edge joining Muse for a cover of Where the Streets Have No Name was very cool.

Ending With A Good Song

When the Flaming Lips ended their show with a tantalizing version of Do You Realize, it left the crowd in a daze. Ditto for Manic Street Preachers when they closed with A Design For Life. It’s a proven fact that ending your show with a hit song will always have the crowd leaving in a good mood. It’s the last impression we have of a band; and we like to be left all warm and fuzzy. An example of how not to do it would be The Verve, playing Bittersweet Symphony and then ending the show with a new track. We were all on an emotional high after Bittersweet Symphony and you chose to make us listen to one last new unfamiliar song when we were ready to leave? Ugh. This rule can also be use in conjunction with other rules, for example, LCD Soundsystem ended with a cover of Jay-‘s Empire State of Mind.

There you have it. A list of things at shows I will never tire of. What did I miss? What are yours?