Concert review – Broken Social Scene at Malkin Bowl Sept 24 2011
– review by Erin Hanson/photos by Anja Weber
Playing the Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park last night, Broken Social Scene went out with a bang.
Announced as BSS’s last Canadian show before an “indefinite hiatus”, the Canadian indie supergroup played an energetic set that felt like a best-of playlist, a celebration of their 12-year career.
Famously made up of anywhere from six to 15 members (a who’s-who of Canadian indie music), the enigmatic Broken Social Scene is kind of hard to figure out until you see them live. Last night, eight talented members graced the stage (nine if you count the roadie joining in on guitar for “KC Accidental”).
The band opened their set with the energetic “Cause=Time” off 2003’s You Forgot it In People, arguably their most popular album – and they had us enraptured from there on in. Their song choices wisely jumped from album to album, including the upbeat “Texaco Bitches” and continuing on with “7/4 Shoreline” before Brendan Canning took the vocals for “Stars and Sons”. Lisa Lobsinger took over for a stripped-down version of “All to All”, a song that has potential to be of their best dance tracks if it weren’t for Lobsinger’s sleepy, low-key performance style. “Shampoo Suicide” turned into a heartwrenching duet with Andrew Whiteman and Kevin Drew occupying opposite sides on the stage and singing their hearts out to each other. Lobsinger made the entire audience swoon (again) during “Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl”.
The constant threat of rain meant the band was set a ways back from the audience, something frontman Kevin Drew tried to remedy throughout the night by strolling to the front of the stage, encouraging the audience to sing along, and charming the crowd with his easygoing banter and cheeky charisma. At one point his storytelling led to an impromptu audience-wide “YMCA” singalong; after Drew sheepishly showed off the beer gut he’s developed during the tour, Canning suggested he visit the YMCA and the audience took it from there.
Ultimately, Saturday night felt like a big party in which audience and band were taking equal part. Broken Social Scene did what they do best, playing with contrasts, teasing us with tense silences so we’re hanging onto their every word (or lack thereof) before they launch back into the harmonies that build up into sound explosions. Anyone who was lucky enough to be at the Malkin Bowl Saturday night caught one heck of a farewell show.
Kevin Drew bid us adieu at the end of the night as they closed with “It’s All Gonna Break”, humbly saying, “We’re Broken Social Scene, please don’t forget us.”
It’s safe to say that with that sort of stage presence and repertoire, we certainly won’t any time soon. Here’s to hoping this mysterious “hiatus” is not a long one.
Broke Social Scene at Malkin Bowl, Vancouver, Sept 24 2011: