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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Broken scene, but full sound

Published: October 20, 2006
Section: Arts, Etc.

As an air of confusion and anxiety floated upon the crowd at Levin Ballroom on Monday, October 16, Broken Social Scene slowly made their way on stage for a commanding hour and a half long set. After the surprise cancellation by openers Do Make Say Think lead to an odd-performance by a reggae-centric DJ, the crowd held their stance in front of the stage, as anticipation for the Canadian-bred headliners bubbled over as the first of one of the seven members of the group took to the stage. Although all of the bands dozen-plus members rarely have the ability to tour together, the acts sound was as full and fresh as ever, with founding members Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning leading the collective of friends through a set filled with their best and finest songs.

Once all seven members made it on stage, Fire Eyed Boy burst through the chaotic noise that grew odder with the addition of each musician;

the band ripped through the single, complete with a duel trumpet attack and enough stringed-instruments to make an orchestra. From there, the band burst head-on into 7/4 (Shoreline) the first single off of 2005s Broken Social Scene as Amy Millan stole the spotlight with her sporadic and nearly-frantic singing. The band continued their strong opening through fan favorite Cause = Time which saw clumps of the crowd break out into dance and belt out the rather odd chorus. The band quickly hit a high point of the night with Stars and Sons, a highlight from the critically acclaimed You Forgot it in People. As Drews haunting vocals rose above the pulsing instrumentation, the real performance came from the crowd, as fans threw up their hands to methodically and vigorously clap along with Drew in a moment of pure catharsis.

With such a strong opener, and after displaying some of their best material, its easy to see how the band lost a little speed. With some confusion from band members, minor sound problems, and over a years worth of hardcore touring, the emotional and physical toll shone through with the next couple of takes. The band launched into Late Nineties Bedroom Rock for the Missionaries, a slow-churning, instrumental piece, and subsequently withdrew much of the energy from the crowd and the band. Shampoo Suicide soon followed, which resulted in Drew apologizing to the crowd for the lackluster performance and forgetting to sing part of the song. Although their onstage banter wasnt what dreams are made of, their intentions certainly were there. Sure, they cant pronounce Brandeis, make less-than-stellar jokes, and go on non-sequiturs about drama, but their friendly and open stage presence was an excellent change of pace in a world where so many acts dont care to acknowledge their fans.

While their banter did little to restore the crowds energy, the rest of the set certainly did as the band got the crowd back on their feet with an engaging performance of Superconnected. While the bands more aggressive songs certainly got people dancing, their performance of Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl had the crowd swooning as Amy Millan took the spotlight back for the powerful song that had nearly everyone in the crowd quietly mouthing the lyrics as Millan dramatically breathed a live-presence into a song that would normally appear to be better with some studio magic. From the emotionally wrought Seventeen Year-Old, the band quickly went back to their old, loud games with fan favorites Almost Crimes and Major Label Debut.

While the band had control over the entire crowd for most of the show, that control seemed to linger after an already enthralling set. After half-heartedly playing part of Lou Reeds Walk on the Wild Side, the band opened the floor to requests. The band finally elected to play Looks Just Like the Sun, a rather slow song that, while certainly good, managed to strip more energy from the midterm-crazy crowd. The band quickly picked things up a little with Swimmers soon followed up with a performance by all seven members for Ibi Dreams of Pavement (A Better Day).

As the entire band left the stage, Drew elected to stay on, claiming for several minutes that there would be no encore, only to have everyone join him onstage. With rumors of an appearance by local luminary and recent Broken Social Scene collaborator J. Mascis in the air, the band performed a stellar rendition of The Wagon, with Drew matching Masciss vocal performances to the perfect pitch. After a strong, long, and at times, drawn-out set, the band ended the evening with KC Accidental, which morphed into a ten-minute jam session that only the die-hards stayed to hear. Although they may not have put on the greatest performance that Brandeis has ever seen, Broken Social Scene managed to overcome a number of difficulties and put on a performance that will certainly be the anthem of every-aged girl and boy that caught their must-see performance.