Review and photos—Broken Social Scene at the Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, Oct 20 2017
– review by Elliott Stewart/photos by Dhruv Govil
The Canadian indie rock collective Broken Social Scene returned to Vancouver for two nights at the Commodore Ballroom.
Led by founding members Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning, the Toronto-based group lines up to 10 artists on stage at any given time playing a variety of instruments. Having just returned from an extended hiatus, tonight’s show will combine old hits and new favorites in support of their latest album Hug of Thunder.
Opening with one of their earliest hits “KC Accidental”, the tone has set for an energetic show. Hard drum pattern changes and hollowing guitar chords, this song can bring any fan to their feet. The pace between hard rock and dreamy lyrics cannot be mistaken for anyone else. With members appearing on stage in various combinations, the early parts of the set also include “7/4 Shoreline” and the new hit “Halfway Home”.
At any given moment there are no less than 3 guitars, 2 sets of drums, and a small horn section. All the variety blending into the group’s unique sound for renditions of “Fire Eye’d Boy” and “Texico Bitches” as the middle of the set winds up. Kevin Drew takes a somber moment to dedicate tonights show to Gord Downie. Reminding everyone to love each other and live to the fullest, they segue into “Stay Happy” off their new album. Combining a smooth drum track and wispy lyrics, you can’t help but dance to the groove being laid down. The tone of the show has changed from the hard rocking edge that opened the show. The haunting lyrics of “Sweetest Kill” filling the room as the show reaches its soft edge.
Things are brought around full circle with a upbeat arrangement of “Major Label Debut”. The main portion of the show is closed with “It’s All Gonna Break”, the horn section closing out the show with the unique sound and energy that made Broken Social Scene so popular. As the band takes their bows, Kevin Drew refuses to leave the stage. He won’t partake in the game that is calling for an encore tonight. He screams “This is the encore right here, we’re just going to keep playing” and drags the band back on stage without hesitation. He then jumps the barrier to sing “Lovers Spit” with the crowd. It’s a great representation of tonight’s show. Everything is about giving back to the fans after so many years off, and Kevin is willing to jump right in with them without hesitation. The entire ensemble is brought back on stage, including members of tonight’s Vancouver based opening act The Belle Game for “Anthems for a Seventeen year-old Girl” to finish the show.
Having seen Broken Social Scene multiple times, I can say tonight’s show was one of the best yet. There’s a raw energy and unique sound that can only be found when they play. Having such a crisp sound with so many artists on stage at one time is an accomplishment in itself. The sounds never comes off washed out. It never feels over the top. 3 guitars, 2 drum sets, horn section, countless singers. For Broken Social Scene the numbers always add up to a great show.
More Broken Social Scene at the Commodore Ballroom photos: