Broken Social Scene, Zeus Warehouse Live February 17, 2011
Broken Social Scene's music is both simple and catchy and speckled with intricacies. It manages to be indie enough for even the hippest of hipsters to enjoy - at least we assume so; we haven't checked Pitchfork - and melodic enough for virgin listeners. If you've heard at least a handful of songs off any of their albums, you may very well be a fan; if you've seen them live, however, there's no question about it. You're a fan.
During their live performance, it's almost impossible not to get swept up in the energy the group gathers together amongst its members and shares with the audience. It was as if we went to our best friend's house, where he and a dozen or so other talented musicians had a two-hour jam session.
From saxophone solos set the beat of shakers to keyboard effects that sounded like birds chirping along with the bass alongside the beat of synthetic drums, Broken Social Scene may very well have played two or three rock concerts back to back, each aimed at a slightly different group of fans. By the end, they had played something for everyone.
Low bass riffs coupled with high-end, slow guitar and a lot of delay on lead vocalist Kevin Drew's tone made up much of the show, as his smooth voice developed from mid-range and clean into something of a high pitched growl nearer the higher notes.
At one point, Drew politely asked the crowd to quiet down for a song featuring a female vocalist with little more than a whisper of a voice. The song was quiet, simple and beautiful... and we only wish we could have heard it more clearly.
The song in question, "Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl," built slowly and steadily; it didn't reach its crescendo until nearly three minutes in. But we couldn't hear it over plenty of overly talkative fans, many of whom didn't seem interested in the music at all.
What could have been one of the best songs of the night was lost in a sea of Houstonians' voices, and no matter how much we moved around in an attempt to find a quieter area, we didn't find one. Someone even booed during the performance.
Is this what happens when tickets are only $20? No wonder they're usually so expensive.
Nevertheless, BSS's performance was solid, lively and kept the crowd bouncing up and down. It was a bit long, though. Maybe we're old men at heart, but a two-hour set on a Thursday? Audience members were flooding out the doors well before midnight. The crowd was still somewhat large, but people were no longer packed tightly together.
We're not completely sure how things work in Canada, but we Houstonians have to work on Friday mornings.
Just kidding, guys. Come back soon. Next time, bring Bieber.
Before Broken Social Scene, Zeus played to a smaller, enthusiastic crowd that, despite its appreciation for the music, would not shut up either. Aftermath caught up with one of Zeus' members, guitarist and vocalist Neil Quin, at the merch table about halfway through the show. Thursday was the band's first time in Houston, Quin told us, and he was pleased with how well his band was received.
"The kids here seem to really like it," Quin said of his band's music with a smile, adding that the crowd size BSS usually pulls is helpful, too. "We've toured America before, but this is the biggest tour we've been on."
Zeus played slower, sweeter songs followed by jumpy, stringy indie-rock. It was back and forth over and over again, and made for one hell of a groove that set the tone for the entire evening.
Personal Bias: We've read a lot about Broken Social Scene but had never seen them live. It was nice to scratch them off our list of bands to see. Oh, and we heard about Zeus about a month ago, and we've been listening to them since. Super-catchy.
The Crowd: Aftermath must be a drunk magnet, because the crowd seemed mild mannered when we were walking around, but whenever we found ourselves content with our post, we would either get beer spilled on us or someone would drunkenly stumble into us. Is this karma?
Overheard in the Crowd:
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"Two hours? Fuck that!!"
"Two hours? Yea-yuh!!"
Random Notebook Dump: At one point, BSS's Kevin Drew began to chant, "My thoughts were so loud, I couldn't hear my mouth" over and over. And we thought, "Hey... isn't that a Modest Mouse lyric?"