Variety Playhouse, November 19, 2008
It seems like it’s been far too long since I attended a show of any sort, but what a perfect occasion to get back in the habit—Broken Social Scene at the Variety Playhouse. (The tickets may have been the most creative wedding gift we received.)
We arrived shortly after the opening act, Land of Talk, took the stage. I had heard of Land of Talk, a three-piece from Montreal, from a sample song played on the “All Songs Considered” podcast. I liked what I heard then, but was unable to locate the album on e-music (and it’s still not there as of today). So, when I got to the show and saw they were the opening act, I was pleasantly surprised.
I definitely enjoyed their set. The music at times was reminiscent of Guided by Voices, while the vocals reminded me a bit of Bettie Serveert, though both these comparisons are based on an immediate gut check—I have no idea how valid they actually are. I’d need to spend more time with the band’s music first. And that’s something I intend to do, as soon as I can get my hands on a copy of their latest (I did pick up their EP, which was available on e-music, today). I’d say that’s pretty high praise for an opening band coming from me.
After a quick smoke and short wait, Broken Social Scene, in all their masses took the stage. I had not seen them play live before, so I had no idea exactly what to expect, but I was definitely looking forward to the show. For last night’s show, the band consisted of anywhere between three and eight members at various times.
For the first few songs, the entire group took the stage (without Feist who is a little busy with other things I’d imagine—like the Colbert Christmas Special). Elizabeth Powell, the singer/guitarist from Land of Talk, however, picked up the slack quite nicely. To be honest, I was a bit concerned during the first song. With so many members on stage, they seemed to have a hard time getting in sync. This didn’t last though. By mid-way through the second song, just when they would have to really get together, they did. And how. And it was like this for the rest of the night. They were a beautiful, shambolic, chaotic, creative, powerful mess. Therein lies the power of their music. Though it was interesting to see as many as seven people looking as if they were wandering aimlessly about the stage, even though, in retrospect, it was a highly choreographed exercise, since they barely put one note wrong the entire night.
This was also a learning experience. Many times I wondered when listening to their songs, just where something had come from—seemingly from the blue as I listened. Well, now I know. At various points last night, during the middle of a song, another band member would wander out from backstage, grab an instrument, and seamlessly bring a whole new sound to the party.
I’m really terrible about remembering and dictating set lists, but I heard everything song I could think of by them that I really wanted to hear, from “Place=Time” , to “Stars and Sons”, to an incredibly energetic and, at times, frenetic “It’s All Gonna Break”.
What else can I say? This has to be one of the more memorable shows I’ve seen in the last few years.
UPDATE: Now with links!