Going into this show, I knew it was going to be hard for Broken Social Scene to top the first time I had seen them, because that first time
a) was at Lollapalooza
b) was one of the best live sets I had ever seen
c) was the cap to one of the best weekends of my life (sorry Red Hot Chili Peppers)
d) was like seeing the Broken Social Scene All-Stars, what with Leslie Feist, Amy Millan, Emily Haines and James Shaw fleshing out the usual line up.
However, that Lollapalooza set was criminally short, reduced to 45 minutes to make way for The Chili Peppers' completely underwhelming performance. So I'm assuming that the Social Scene was making up for this premature curtain call Saturday at The Michigan Theater because they played pretty much forever, exhausting every lively inch of 2003's You Forgot It In People and their 2005 self-titled album (sorry Sufjan, it's my revised pick for album of the year).
With rumors flying rampant that this was the band's last show ever ó they've denied this, but that didn't stop Scene co-leader Kevin Drew from making a handful of sly last show jests between songs ó the performance felt and sounded like it was equally for the benefit of band members and fans. That being the case, you can't blame the band members for being a touch indulgent.
"It's All Gonna Break" stretched well beyond the nine-minutes-plus treatment it gets on "Broken Social Scene." Near the end of the song, it looked like the whole band just might collapse beneath the weight of their instruments before the songs regal horn line could bring things to a close.
Any sane band would have ended the show right then and there, we're talking about the Social Scene here, who soldiered through two more numbers ó a half-baked cover of Neil Young's "Cinnamon Girl" with openers Do Make Say Think followed by "KC Accidental." There's no need for an encore when you play for more than two hours straight, but the set had enough false climaxes that many of the band's selections came painted in shades of encore.
With "indefinite hiatus" looming, the usually-faceless collective took some time to highlight certain individuals ó Jason Collett and Andrew Whiteman both got the chance to step up to the mic for a song and Lisa Lobsinger took lead on "Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl" to a rousing Drew-led reception. There was still a loose, band-of-buds charm to the show, though, as members would emerge from the wings to lead audience-participation hand claps (Lobsinger on "Stars and Sons") or to add a little shaker to the mix (Collett on many, many songs).
A five-member attack on "Superconnected" proved that a downsized Social Scene may not be such a bad thing, but nothing captured the spirit of the band's current aesthetic (sorry between-song call-and-responses) like the massive onstage dance party that slowly formed during "Hotel."
A big mass of people grooving and having a good time to beautiful music ó that's how Broken Social Scene ought to be remembered a few years down the line.
Writer: Erik Adams