Aftermath: Broken Social Scene at Numbers
Photos by Mark C. Austin
On the one hand you have your "scene," you know the one. With the super-skinny jeans, the ambivalently knotted skinny ties, the American Spirits blown carefully through the nose, the ironic hair. And on the other, you have your Broken Social Scene. With the music. And those voices. And all the majesty that comes with perfect-sounding noise.
And the confusion of where is that sound coming from, wait, did I just hear that? And, you know, the music. Welcome to the yep. They brought it all to Numbers Monday night, two and a half hours squeezed into what felt like 20 minutes, their veins of sound bringing to the body a feeling of living inside a novel. The speakers are the binding, Kevin Drew the capital letter, Brendan Canning the period. All the other players and instruments are the narrative.
And that narrative blurs into a sonic mass of non-linear abstractions that work together seamlessly to give the listener the tools to understand a drunken fog in a snowstorm. It was an amazingly thorough night, song-wise; almost the entire catalog of BSS material was on display.
The first third of the show allowed Canning to sing lead on a number of songs from his solo record, Something for All of Us, and then most notably on the beautiful (and on this night at least) horn-charged, "Stars and Sons." It acted as a way to set up Kevin Drew, who took the reins for the majority of the last two-thirds of the show, highlighted by rousing renditions of "Fire Eye'd Boy," "Superconnected" and "Farewell to the Pressure Kids" (from his solo record, Spirit If) - a song he dedicated to hometown hero George Bush Sr.
As you might imagine, though, the most Broken Social Scene-y bits of the night came through the gorgeous orchestration of the male/female harmonies on songs like "7/4 Shoreline," "Major Label Debut" and especially "Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl," a song that gave the audience a chance to sing together as one, with blood made of goosebumps.
But the most interesting two-song medley came not from Broken Social Scene at all, but from Do Make Say Think's Charles Spearin, who has been touring with BSS, sampling parts of his upcoming "Happiness Project," an experiment he is doing turning the voices of his neighbors (as they speak into a microphone, answering questions asked by Spearin about happiness and love) into a musical cadence of broken spoken word, saxophone and trumpet that work into a crescendo of what turned out to be an appropriate mantra for the night: "All of a sudden I felt my body moving inside."
It is a fascinating thing to see; and if you haven't heard of it, do. There is not a band in the world that can do what Broken Social Scene can do. There just isn't. The perfect fusion of voice, strings, keys, horns, and drums are planted so firmly inside the soul of the audience as to flower dandelions that smell like hope. We walked amongst gods Monday night, and gods come from Canada.
Oh yeah, they sang "Lover's Spit." And I hope you saw it. Because there are no words.