Wednesday, January 26th, 2005
Late Nineties Bedroom Rock For The Missionaries
Chaos is a fundamental element of Broken Social Scene – that a collective as large as they are can even coordinate schedules to perform let alone be creatively vital is remarkable. However, it’s inevitable that in a situation like that, sometimes the chaos would get the upper hand. But maybe I’m being overly dramatic… Last night’s Tsunami relief benefit show was by far the hottest ticket in town (though there’s not really a lot of competition on a snowy Tuesday night), and Lee’s Palace had a packed house in attendance to see the local heroes play for the first time since last August.
Openers at a Broken Social Scene show are usually more a formality than anything else. If they’re part of the BSS family, it’s inevitable that the backing band will look an awful lot like the headliners – case in point, Jason Collett and Apostle of Hustle. They opened things up with a short set each, emceed by head BSScenester Kevin Drew and featuring an expansive and fluctuating lineup of musicians on guitar, percussion and horns. The rule of thumb appears to be you can never have too much percussion – they had a big pile of instruments on the middle of the stage that people wandered over to, grabbed something and shook it. Just like grade school.
Then came the surprise guests portion of the night, as Drew apologized for the absence of one Ms Feist. To make up for her absence, brought out Gentleman Reg to perform a duet cover of “Mushaboom” – of the high points of the night. This was followed by an abbreviated set by an abbreviated Stars, with only Amy, Torq and Evan able to make the show. They performed one song from Set Yourself On Fire (the title of which eludes me at the moment) and then Drew forced Torq to ad lib a new song on the spot while he played guitar, with decent results.
Finally, the Scene proper came out at 11 and started what would turn out to be a sprawling, shambolic 2-hour plus set. I should say that their last show that I saw at Harbourfront in August was one of the best shows I’d seen last year and was probably a highwater mark in the history of BSS live shows – so it’s not really a slight to say that last night’s show didn’t meet up to that standard. Maybe it was because of just flying in from Halifax late Monday/early Tuesday (I wasn’t sure which), but I felt that the band had trouble finding that ‘zone’ wherein they harness the chaos I mentioned earlier and channel it into something special. There were a few jams that went on a little too long and a little too nowhere and a few new songs that didn’t sound quite grown up enough to be playing in the front yard. Overall, it seemed the band had some difficulty finding that extra gear or really getting everyone simpatico – it was only on the older You Forgot It In People material that they really found their groove. As could be expected, Emily Haines (who was celebrating a birthday) and Amy Millan provided the highlights of the show with their combined performances on “Anthems For A Seventeen Year-Old Girl” and “Backyards”.
At the start of the show, the audience was warned that the band was just going to mess around like the used to way back in their early days as a loose project jamming at Ted’s Wrecking Yard, and it was a valid warning. There was a very off-the-cuff vibe about the whole affair that was made for a homier, more intimate feel, but I wonder if maybe playing in front of the hometown crowd they get a little too slack? Surely when they’re on the road, opening for say, the Pixies, they’re a little more down to business? Just curious. But I hope that saying it was a good show, and not necessarily a great show or an amazing show, isn’t damning them with faint praise. Good is still good – I’ve just seen them play better. Still, the crowd was really into it, the band was having a good time and it was all for a good cause, so what the hell.
I’ll have photos up tomorrow – I got home too late last night to spend the time processing them (and with the lighting, there’s a lot of processing needed). I’m already running on, like, four hours of sleep. Come back tomorrow.
Anyone who wants more Apostle of Hustle should be at the Drake on February 18, tickets $10.
VietNam are opening for The Comas at a free show at Lee’s Palace on February 16. The press clippings on the Vice Recordings page sound interesting. The song samples provided make me thing I’ll need to bring a pillow and/or bong.
In this week’s installment of Comic Book Resources’ The Basement Tapes, Joe Casey and Matt Fraction debate the state and merit of comic book blogs. Some interesting discussion about the blog medium, applicable not only to those dedicated to comics but the blog dynamic in general.
np – Belle & Sebastian / Dear Catastrophe Waitress