Broken Social Scene and the Sea And Cake at First Avenue, 10/04/10

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photo by: Steve Cohen
Whereas Sunday night's Eels show found the band acting like summer was still here, Monday night's epic Broken Social Scene performance at First Avenue had the band (and the crowd) pretending like it was New Year's Eve. And you know what? For all of the love and positive energy in the club last night it surely could have been, as the Canadian collective kept all of us entertained past midnight (which naturally included a faux-countdown) during their galvanizing 140-minute set.

Broken Social Scene ringleader Kevin Drew made the band's festive formula clear right from the get-go, announcing emphatically as the band took the stage: "Let's not worry about tomorrow. Let's pretend it's Saturday night. Let's do this." Now, for those of you in the crowd that didn't have to write a review by the following morning, those words were probably music to your ears. For me, well, I knew what I was getting into; Broken Social Scene have never failed to put on ambitious, amazing shows in Minneapolis, and last night was certainly no exception. 24 songs that eloquently and exuberantly showcased the heart and boundless creativity of all the musicians on stage (ranging from as few as one to as many as eleven, depending on what the track required).

The set started with the simmering instrumental "Pacific Theme," which eased the band into the night, before Drew hilariously dedicated "Texico Bitches" to "the Hooters in the neighborhood arcade that just closed down." That type of acerbic humor would be on full display throughout the entire engaging performance, with the band freely trading quips amongst the crowd and themselves all night. "7/4(Shoreline)" was an early standout, and led smoothly into the equally incredible "Fire Eye'd Boy," at which point it became clear that the band already had it in high gear, and their sound was immaculate. Typically, when you have that many musicians on stage at a time, some instruments inevitably get drowned out in the din, but the sound was so perfect in the Mainroom that you could hear each and every part clearly within the stellar mix. Brendan Canning even went so far as to joke: "We could be a shit band, for all you know. But we've thankfully got a great front of house sound man."

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photo by: Steve Cohen

With all of the great female singers that have drifted in and out of BSS, current vocalist Lisa Lobsinger obviously has some amount of pressure on her to live up to her lofty predecessors, and the barefooted chanteuse delivered her dulcet, sultry vocals with style, absolutely nailing the Röyksopp-like "All To All," and the hypnotically beautiful "Anthems For A Seventeen Year-Old Girl," which was another clear highlight of the set. The Apostle Of Hustle, Andrew Whiteman, just slayed on guitar all night, adding his unique flourishes to every song, even finishing a devastating solo with only two strings on the electrifying set-closer "Ibi Dreams Of Pavement (A Better Day)." That type of collaborative, supportive nature really helps make these songs  far more substantial than mere pop trifles, they become transcendent.

The three song run of "Superconnected," complete with Cyndi Lauper's "Money Changes Everything" tagged on to the end, "World Sick," which featured one of many guest appearances by Metric's James Shaw on drums, and a stunning version of "Lover's Spit," that found Drew starting the song alone on keys before being joined by the band playing various horns, a harmonica and Canning on melodica, was the high water mark of a show that had many incredible moments. But Drew stated that his favorite part of the show came near the end, where "we chill out a little bit, and it's nice to hear yourself." So the band smoothed things out with atmospheric versions of "Hotel," the aforementioned "Anthems," and a cover of openers the Sea And Cake's "The Colony Room," featuring all of the talented Chicago band joining BSS, who also delivered a solid set earlier in the evening.

"KC Accidental" and the raucous instrumental "Meet Me In The Basement" closed out the main set on a glorious high, with Drew encouraging an already rapturous crowd to "let it out, scream it out with us." And of course we did as we were told, joining the band in a triumphant, boisterous finish to the set. Drew stayed on stage while the rest of the band scattered for the encore, hilariously telling the crowd: "You people are alive. Saturday night-OMG!! It could be New Year's Eve if you wanted it to...We are a mirror, ladies and gentleman, not a band. We're a big fat fucking mirror on society."

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photo by: Steve Cohen

With that, Drew left the stage to the rest of the band, who delivered a gentle rendition of "Looks Just Like The Sun," that started the encore strongly. "Water In Hell" kept up the momentum, followed by a perfectly timed countdown by Drew which came right at midnight, creating a spontaneous celebration that was added to by "Ibi Dreams Of Pavement," the unrestrained last song of the night. As the wild song came to a close, Drew sincerely thanked the crowd, telling us: "We believe in you. Go out and do some good...We're Broken Social Scene and we'll always come back. Always, always." And, as long as you and the rest of the band keep your promise, Kevin, and continue to put on incredible shows like you did last night, all of us will be there to see you play each and every time.

Critic's Bias: I wish I was in Broken Social Scene-do they accept applications?

The Crowd: Nearly a full-house, with damn near everyone sticking around for 2+ hours straight through the encore.

Overheard: "I'd be happy if Kevin didn't wear a fedora at this show."

Random Notebook Dump: I want a pair of Kevin Drew's silver Addidas sneakers in the worst way. So damn cool.

Setlist:

  1. Pacific Theme
  2. Texico Bitches
  3. 7/4 (Shoreline)
  4. Fire Eye'd Boy
  5. Forced To Love
  6. All To All
  7. Stars And Sons
  8. Cause=Time
  9. Art House Director
  10. Sweetest Kill
  11. Guilty Cubicles
  12. Superconnected/Money Changes Everything (Cyndi Lauper)
  13. World Sick
  14. Lovers Spit
  15. Romance To The Grave
  16. Hotel
  17. Anthems For A Seventeen Year-Old Girl
  18. Ungrateful Little Father
  19. The Colony Room (The Sea And Cake)
  20. KC Accidental
  21. Meet Me In The Basement
  22. Looks Just Like The Sun (Encore)
  23. Water In Hell (Encore)
  24. Ibi Dreams Of Pavement (A Better Day) (Encore)

View Steve Cohen's photo coverage of the show here
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